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This afternoon the U.S. Coast Guard reported that a 31 year old man apparently went overboard from the Eurodam (**but see the update below!) during a cruise to Juneau, Alaska last night.  The Alaskan newspaper KTOO initially reported in error that the missing man was a passenger. The Coast Guard release stated in pertinent part:

“The Coast Guard is searching for a missing man who was last seen near Juneau, Monday night.

The Coast Guard continues searching for the missing 31-year-old man.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received notification from the Eurodam at 10:45 p.m. that a person was missing and had potentially gone overboard.”

The official Coast Guard statement says that the Eurodam cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard station in Juneau at 10:45 p.m.  The Coast Guard Sector in Juneau dispatched a “45-foot Response Boat-Medium” at 11:05 p.m. and the crew arrived on scene at approximately 11:15 p.m. The Coast Guard Sector in Juneau later launched an Air Station Sitka MH-60 helicopter aircrew at about 12:03 a.m. The aircrew arrived on scene at approximately 12:40 a.m.

The curious thing about these official times is that the Eurodam was scheduled to arrive in Juneau by 1:00 p.m. and leave by 10:00 p.m. last night. AIS information (via MarineTraffic) shows the Eurodam in the port of Juneau by the time that it finally reported the missing person at 10:45 p.m. (Are there any guests or crew members on this ship who can confirm exactly when the ship arrived in and left Juneau?)

If this information is correct, the HAL cruise ship delayed reporting the overboard man (apparently a crew member) until the ship had already arrived at port in Juneau.

It further appears that the Eurodam was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system (MOB). Automatic MOB’s will immediately signal the bridge when someone goes over the rails of the ship. The system will them automatically track the person in the water, even at night, via radar and infrared technology. Cruise ships which do not have this technology will allow an overboard person to go undetected. The bridge officers will not realize the overboard person missing and the ship will continue blindly sailing on. Only later, when the ship arrives at the next port, will the officers realize that someone disappeared from the ship (either jumped or was pushed or otherwise fell from the ship).

Few cruise lines have such technology installed on their fleet of ships. We know that Disney Cruises and one or two other companies have installed such systems on some of their ships. Carnival Corporation has not invested in the Automatic MOB systems on any of its ships on any of its brands.

The Eurodam left Seattle, Washington on August 6, 2022 around 3:00 p.m. It is approximately 900 miles from Seattle to Juneau by water. It does not appear from any source whether the crew member disappeared before or after the ship arrived in Juneau or where the missing man exactly actually went overboard.

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

P.S. This is not the first time that a person has disappeared from HAL’s Eurodam. You can watch a special report by local Miami news station NBC6 here.

**August 9, 2022 Update:  In a bizarre turn of events, the Coast Guard’s latest press release now reports that the missing man is from the Koningsdam, which was getting underway in downtown Juneau, next to the Eurodam. The Eurodam‘s crew  reported hearing shouting coming from the water, and it was eventually determined that a crew member from the Koningsdam was missing.  

Image Credit: Kefalonitis94 – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia.

A crew member on the Jewel of the Seas informs me that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a total of  sixty-four (64) COVID-19 cases amongst guests. Recent testing also revealed only four (4) infected crew members.

 

The cruise ship’s Infection Control Officer informed the crew: “Unfortunately our guest numbers continue to soar. Best way to help with the spread is to try to use that entire bottle of Oxivir in one day when sanitizing your areas and to encourage guest to use the hand sanitizers around the ship. (A bottle of sanitizer is useless when this virus is transmitted through the air). Front of house personal, please be vocal in a pleasant and happy manner.” The infected guest count of 64 is a bit higher than previous three cruises which ranged from 46 to 61.

The infected count of crew members has ranged from 16 to 18 in the last month and dropped at least 75% (to 4) during this latest cruise.

The Jewel left port in Amsterdam on July 26th for a a twelve day cruise to ports in Norway. She is scheduled to return to Amsterdam on the morning of August 7th.

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Image credit: Jewel of the SeasRoyal Caribbean.

Several cruise lines, led by Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are loosening coronavirus testing rules, as the Washington Post and USA Today recently reported. This follows the unwise and inexplicable decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost two weeks ago, to stop reporting on COVID-19 cases on cruise ships for all passengers and crew members.

Previously, the CDC had a color-coded system of green (no COVID), yellow (less than .03 %) and orange (more than .03%). On July 18, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stopped reporting on COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. The sudden ending of the disease reporting comes exactly at a time when the CDC was reporting that 100% of cruise ships sailing from U.S. ports had at least .03% of COVID-19 aboard. In other words, the CDC designated 100% of all cruise ships to be “orange” under the CDC’s color coded COVID-19 dashboard. Absolutely no cruise ships had been deemed by the CDC to be “green” (free of COVID-19) when the agency announced that it was ending its reporting of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships.

The unexpected and abrupt ending of the color tracking system by the CDC comes at a time when the COVID BA.5 variant is continuing to surge. The CDC’s imprudent decision leaves the public reliant on cruise lines to voluntarily publish COVID-19 results. But the cruise industry has consistently demonstrated a lack of transparency when it comes to releasing disease statistics or other unpleasant news. The result, predictably enough, is cruise lines have largely been able to keep outbreaks of COVID-19 which occur on their ships secret.

This has become clear when the Carnival owned Holland America Line’s Zaandam recently had over 20% of its guests test positive for COVID-19. (There are other examples I will briefly mention below).

According to a “CDC Cruise Ship COVID outbreak tracker,” maintained by Andy Bloch (a graduate of MIT and Harvard Law School), based on data provided by the cruise lines to the CDC, the outbreak occurred during the HAL’s cruise ship’s recent voyage from Rotterdam to Boston.

Fortunately, Mr. Bloch makes his tracker, with graphs and extensive data, publicly available on a user friendly site which you can access here. Mr. Bloch publishes his tracker with the expressed goal of educating the public. He expressed his hope “that it may help convince the CDC to reconsider and continue the program.”

There is a certain irony in the Zaandam being the first cruise ship to have a significant COVID outbreak just after the CDC went dark. After all, the Zaandam has a rather infamous history of being what the Guardian newspaper calls the “ship that became a global Covid pariah” back in March 2020.

The CDC’s old system of reporting COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships by releasing no data but just color-coded icons was always fairly useless, as some people on Twitter have noted. Now nearly all cruise ships are coded as “orange.” There has been no readily available official disclosure of how many passengers and crew members on cruise ships have tested positive for coronavirus or the percentage of people (above the minimal threshold of .03%) who were infected. Nor is there public data readily available reflecting trends indicating either an improving or worsening situation. For an agency that reports detailed data on Norovirus cases, the CDC appears to have been influenced by the cruise industry to keep the true status of cruise ship COVID-19 cases secret.

Without the publicly available coronavirus data, the CDC’s page for cruise travel says customers allegedly “have the option of contacting their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board their ship.” This sentence,  alone, shows how clueless the CDC has become, as there is no chance that the recalcitrant cruise lines will be forthcoming to the public with accurate and reliable health information relative to what is actually happening on their cruise ships.

In addition to the outbreak on the Zaandam, Mr. Bloch’s tracker shows other recent examples of significant COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships, such as on the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, Celebrity Cruises’ Summit, Viking’s Orion. and Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady.

In fairness to the cruise industry, Mr. Bloch’s tracker also shows those ships with a low COVID rate. On Twitter, he says “with pre-cruise testing, cruises can be a safer vacation choice than land-based hotels that don’t require tests.”

With the cruise lines irresponsibly dropping testing requirements, let’s hope the CDC keeps reporting COVID-19 data so that the public can follow Mr. Bloch and his tracking program.

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

P.S. It’s a tad surprising that none of the major newspapers which routinely cover the cruise industry, such as the Miami Herald, Washington Post or USA Today, has reported on Mr. Bloch’s CDC Cruise COVID tracker.  To my knowledge, only Poynter cited to Mr. Bloch, in an article titled: The CDC ends COVID reporting on cruise ships. Is this good for public health?

You can follow Mr. Bloch on Twitter: @Andy_Bloch.

Image Credit: Barek – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

A jury in the case of Jane Doe v. Carnival Corporation d/b/a Carnival Cruise Line case number 19-24766, pending in federal court for the Southern District of Florida, returned a verdict in the amount of $10,200,000 on July 18, 2022 for a passenger who was raped by a crew member on the Carnival Miracle.

Facts Alleged By Jane Doe

The salient facts are contained in part in a decision by a federal magistrate who ruled on various pre-trial motions filed by the parties and reported in Doe v. Carnival Corporation 2021 WL 7540787. In the pertinent parts, the decision states:

“Jane Doe was a passenger onboard Carnival’s vessel, Miracle, and in the early hours of December 2, 2018, she alleges that Fredy Anggara, a Carnival crewmember, raped her in a storage closet.”

The complaint (lawsuit) which Jane Doe’s lawyer filed further alleges additional details, which include:

The incident occurred on “December 1, 2018;”

This was the “first cruise” for Jane Doe, a resident of the state of Washington;

“On the last night of the subject cruise, Jane Doe went up a stairwell. At the top was a CARNIVAL employee (see photo produced in discovery);

Once Jane Doe reached the top of the stairs, the subject employee lured Jane Doe into a (maintenance) closet. He went inside the closet with her, locked the door, raped her, and ejaculated on her;

Thereafter he unlocked the closet door and let Jane Doe leave;

Jane Doe immediately rushed away towards her room. The assailant caught up to her and asked her to allow him back in her room. Jane Doe declined his request;

Once Jane Doe reached her room, she burst into tears and told her friend what had just happened;

Jane Doe and her friend went to find help and report what had happened;

Jane Doe started hyperventilating and having panic attacks;

Jane Doe located employees of Defendant to report the crime;

The cruise’s staff members placed Jane Doe in a wheelchair and took her to the ship’s medical facility where staff utilized a rape kit on her and gave her medications to consume in order to fight sexually transmitted diseases she may have obtained during the rape;

Jane Doe was subjected to numerous episodes of humiliation following the medical examination where she had to walk through dozens of passengers who were waiting to disembark the ship. They were ogling her as she passed through them in just a t-shirt as she was not provided any fresh clothes to wear; and

Following the cruise, Jane Doe followed up with CARNIVAL to see if the subject employee had been fired, if any disciplinary action was taken, and/or if he was arrested. CARNIVAL did not respond.”

Carnival’s Defense

During discovery, Carnival responded to the rape by claiming through its corporate representative Suzie Vasquez (a lawyer) that on Carnival cruise ships allegedly “sexual assaults are actually very, very rare . . .”

Cruise Expert – Dr. Ross Klein

Prior to trial, Carnival tried to prohibit notable cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, who is the author of the popular CruiseJunkie web site, to testify regarding the frequency of rapes aboard Carnival cruise ships. Dr. Klein has previously testified as an expert before both houses of Congress regarding the issues of crime on cruise ships. His opinions are attached. Jane Doe’s counsel sought to elicit testimony from Dr. Klein that Carnival had notice that Mr. Anggara, the Carnival assailant, was likely to assault passengers. Carnival tried to block Dr. Klein’s testimony that:

  • The cruise industry as a whole, and Carnival Cruise Line in particular, has an awareness of the problem of rapes, sexual assaults, and sex-related incidents on cruise ships, including the incidence of rape, sexual assaults, and sex-related incidents on Carnival cruise ships.
  • Carnival Cruise Line failed in using available data to conduct a social epidemiological analysis of crimes on its ships with the goal of targeted and specific strategies for preventing rape, sexual assaults, and sex-related incidents.
  • Guests are given an elevated sense of safety by promotional material for Carnival Cruise Lines cruises, and by publication of crime statistics for rape and sexual assault on its website.
  • The sexual assault of Jane Doe was to a degree foreseeable given the cruise line’s knowledge about past sex-related incidents, about use of alcohol onboard Carnival ships, and its failure to implement reasonable initiatives to address the problem of rape, sexual assault, and sex-related incidents onboard Carnival ships.

In an order denying Carnival’s motion in its entirety, the federal magistrate ruled that Dr. Klein is qualified, his methodology is reliable, and his testimony is helpful to the jury.

Counsel for Jane Doe filed a motion seeking sanctions against Carnival for what he alleged was the intentional misconduct of the defense counsel for Carnival and the cruise line’s corporate representative during the trial (see exhibit 303).

Rape Cases Against Carnival Cruise Line

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.

This poor 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.

Carnival Cruise Line Leads Cruise Industry with the Most Sexual Assaults

The U.S. Congress has studied the problems of rape aboard cruise ships. The cruise industry’s trade organization, CLIA, argued that per capita cruise ship crime rates should be based on the total number of people cruising in any year (around 30,000,000 cruised this year) rather than the average number of people populating cruise ships on any given day. By analogy, the per capita crime statistics for U.S. cities are calculated based on the number of residents in a city. Tourists who visit the city during the year are obviously not counted as residents. Imagine how the crime statistics for New York City would be diluted if instead of calculating crime rates based on the number of residents in the city (approximately 8 million), this number was inflated to include each of the more than 60 million people who visit the city annually.

Congress rejected CLIA’s argument and concluded that per capita cruise crime statistics should be calculated based on the average number of passengers sailing at a particular time, not on the annual number of passengers.

Using Congress’ methodology to determine sexual assault rate results in a per capita rate for Carnival Cruise Line of nearly 40 (39.6) per 100,000.  This number is calculated by taking the number of sexual assaults on Carnival ships reported to the FBI in the last 12 months of 2019 (43), and dividing it by the total number of people on Carnival’s fleet of ships (around 75,000 passengers and approximately 33,500 crew members for a total of 108,500).

The per capita rate of sexual assaults on Carnival ships of 40 per 100,000 is significant. (Please note, this is my opinion based on the data which I have reviewed; it is not necessarily the opinion of Dr. Klein). It is a higher per capita rate than California, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia (and over a dozen other states). The rate on Carnival ships is higher than the average per capita rape rate in the United States of around 27 of 100,000.   

Jane Doe’s Counsel – Daniel Courtney

Jane Doe is represented by Miami lawyer Daniel Cortney.  This is a significant verdict which demonstrates the seriousness of the case and the victim’s injuries. Congratulations to Mr. Courtney and his staff for their excellent work on this case.

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July 23, 2022 Update: The Washington Post covered the trial and published an article titled Carnival Cruise Line owes rape victim $10 million, jury says. The newspaper writes:

“The lawsuit claims Carnival was liable for the rape because it failed to monitor dark, public areas of the ship where women could be vulnerable to assaults. It says the company should have exercised a level of reasonable care for guests because “on board its cruise ships there have been numerous assaults, batteries, sexual assaults and batteries, rapes, and attacks perpetrated by crew on passengers.”

In court documents responding to questions from Carnival Corp.’s representation, the plaintiff described how the alleged assault changed her life.

“I have depressive episodes,” she says in the documents. “I suffer from anxiety especially in public. It has affected how intimate I am with a person.”
“At my lowest point I thought of killing myself,” she says in the documents. “I had a plan. I went around to visit my friends and created memories for them to remember me. I also wrote everyone notes. I was hospitalized.”

In statistics kept by the Department of Transportation showing allegations of criminal activity on ships that embark and disembark passengers in the United States, sexual assault is the top offense. There were 82 allegations in 2018 and 101 in 2019. The pandemic forced an industry-wide halt to cruise sailings in March 2020, and the department has not updated the reports since cruise ships started sailing again.”

Carnival PR department was quoted in the article as saying that the rape was allegedly a “consensual sexual encounter” which was “consistent with an investigation by the FBI that concluded the encounter was consensual.”  The irony is that the FBI, which admitted in testimony before Congress that rapes alleged to have occurred on cruise ships be criminally prosecuted less than 10% of the time, never prepares reports claiming that rape was consensual as Carnival falsely implied. Moreover, the trial court ruled before trial that the FBI report constituted inadmissible hearsay.

The trial court ruled because that the FBI report constitutes inadmissible hearsay (see docket no. 233), any determinations and statements made in those reports – including the FBI’s conclusions regarding the rape at issue in this case – “will not be presented to the jury or admitted into evidence at trial.” As such, Carnival through its employees and lawyers could not mention any conclusions reached by the FBI on the basis that the file constituted hearsay.

Counsel for Jane Doe filed a motion seeking sanctions against Carnival during trial for what he alleged was the intentional misconduct of the defense counsel for Carnival and the cruise line’s corporate representative during the trial by implying that the FBI, which rarely arrest rapists on cruise ships, declined to recommend prosecution based on an alleged conclusion that the conduct was consensual. (see docket no. 303).

It is outrageous for Carnival to now issue a statement which the trial court prohibited.

After practicing law for 39 years. I have never seen a corporate defendant like Carnival Corporation issue a public statement which expressly violates a pre-trial ruling by a trial court like this.

Image credit: Carnival MiracleMaster0Garfield – CC BY-SA 4.0  commons / wikimedia (top); CRUISEMAPPER (bottom).

A crew member on the Jewel of the Seas informs me that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a total of  seventy-three (73) COVID-19 cases on the ship. There are fifty-seven (57) guests who tested positive for the virus and sixteen (16) crew members. The hotel director is also positive for COVID-19.

The Jewel left port in Amsterdam on Thursday July 14, 2022, on a twelve day cruise to ports in Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, and Guernsey Island. She is scheduled to return to Amsterdam on July 26, 2022.

We last reported on COVID-19 cases on the Jewel of the Seas on July 2, 2022 when the ship was leaving on her last cruise and had seventy-nine COVID-19 cases amongst guests (61) and crew members (18).

Seventy-Nine (79) COVID-19 Cases on the Jewel of the Seas

Despite the efforts of the cruise lines and travel agents to convince the public that it’s safe to go on a cruise ship, the truth is that the vaccine-resistant BA.4 and BA.5 variants of COVID-19 are spreading around the world, including not only the U.S. but in Europe. In the U.S., according to the COVID-19 Disease Cruise Ship Dashboard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that of the 95 cruise ships monitored, 100% are orange. Zero are  green.

To our knowledge, this is the first time that the CDC has concluded that all cruise ships sailing from U.S. ports have 0.3% or more of total passengers and/or crew positive for COVID.

Unfortunately, neither the CDC not the cruise lines will make the number of infected passengers and/or crew members public knowledge. This is a public disservice.

From information that we receive regarding the Jewel of the Seas from crew members and other sources, it reasonably appears that all cruise ships probably have an average of 75-150 infected guests and crew at any given time.

If you are aware of a COVID-19 outbreak on a cruise ship, please alert us and we will get the word out.

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Image credit: Jewel of the Seas – Dave souza – CC BY-SA 2.5.

A guest aboard the Holland American Line Westerdam sent us the following information this morning:

“On HAL’s Westerdam now. Ship malfunctioned while at Hubbard Glacier, severely hampering forward progress. Captain says part of propulsion system (Azipod failure). Heading to Sitka now, but will skip Ketchikan. Any news on this situation? Coast Guard is aware and monitoring the situation.

We will miss Ketchikan and not sure what time we will arrive in Sitka. (The ship is currently in Sitka now) Many excursions canceled in Sitka.

Flying in Experts from HAL for assistance. No more info being given at this time.”

The cruise passenger requested that his identity remain anonymous and confidential.

The Westerdam sailed from Seattle on a seven day cruise was was scheduled to call on Juneau, Hubbard Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan and Vancouver Island, before returning to Seattle.

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Image Credit: Master0Garfield – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

When I read the news this morning that a COVID-19 outbreak involving around one-hundred passengers and crew members occurred on the Coral Princess, Princess’s sister ship to the Ruby Princess which had one of the earliest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Australia two years ago, I felt as if I were trapped in a scene in Groundhog Day. In the movie, comedian Bill Murray plays a weatherman who finds himself trapped in the small town of Puntxsutawny as he lives the same day over and over again.

ABC News – Australia reports that a COVID-19 outbreak on the Coral Princess involved “around one hundred passengers and crew members” as the Princess cruise ship arrived in Brisbane, Australia in the northeastern state of Queensland. Neither Princess Cruises nor parent company Carnival Corporation stated the actual or precise number of infected guests or crew but nonetheless released a PR statement claiming that the cruise line had been “open and transparent” with guests.

The government in Australia down-played the outbreak, saying that COVID-19 is everywhere and bound to happen on cruise ships. Inexplicably the Australian health officials said there were no plans to mandate face masks, and said it was up to individuals whether to wear one or not. Despite this relaxed attitude, the Princess spokesperson claimed that the “health and well-being of our guests and crew remain our main priority” and that the cruise line was “doing everything possible to ensure the safety of guests and crew in the face of the outbreak.” These are the usual cruise line claims and PR gobbledygook. In the same spirit, the cruise line claimed it was was “adhering to comprehensive protocols,” but there was no effort to even require masks or enforce social  distancing.

The government also claimed that “cruise ship crew and their passengers are subject to strict requirements to minimise the COVID-19 risk to Queenslanders.” But, again, the guests were not required to wear masks or socially distance.

A number of infected guests disembarked in Brisbane, which as Australian newspaper WAtoday explained, is facing its highest level of hospitalization in six months. Thousands of staff are off sick or isolating due to coronavirus infection which is placing significant pressure on the state’s hospitals. These hospitals have already started to cancel elective procedures.

The Ruby Princess, a sister ship of the Coral Princess, was the site of an early major outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia when infected passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney in 2020. At least 900 passengers and crew later tested positive for COVID-19, and 28 people died.

Crew members were forced to stay on the Princess ship as the virus spread. Some Princess crew members died and/or ended their life waiting repatriation home.

Cruise Coronavirus Crisis: Crew Members on the Ruby Princess Plea for Help

This year, the Ruby Princess again made the news when over 250 passengers were infected with COVID-19 during cruises at the end of March and mid-April.

Princess Cruises became the poster-child of how a cruise line should not to handle a COVID-19 outbreak based on its mishandling of outbreaks on the Diamond Princess, Grand Princess and Ruby Princess.

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess, I asked Princess Cruises whether the virus could be spread through airborne particles. In response to my inquiry in mid-February 2020 which I posted on Twitter (along with a photo of Princess crew members huddled together in a hallway in the crew area), Princess Cruises denied that the virus can be transmitted through the air. It cited to the World Health Organization that the virus is allegedly “mainly” transmitted via droplets from close person to person contact.

Cruising now without a mask requirement or strict social distancing by guests to avoid this airborne virus suggests that this Carnival Corporation brand has not learned much since the early days of the pandemic.

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July 11, 2022 Update:

Image credit: Roy Luck – Coral Princess CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A Viking river cruise ship collided with what is described as a cargo ship yesterday, resulting in injuries to two passengers on the cruise ship.

The Viking Hermod was sailing on the Rhine River near Speyer, Germany when a cargo ship reportedly turned directly into its path. The Viking Hermod tried reversing at full power but the ensuing collision damaged both vessels. The river cruise ship sustained damage to its bow (photo below left); the cargo ship (photo right) ended up grounding.

A passenger on the Viking Hermod who wishes to remain anonymous sent us this information. He stated that damage to the cruise ship has been covered with a large canvas.

The Viking Hermod is sailing a 7 day, one-way cruise from Amsterdam to Basel.  The cruise started on July 5, 2022 and is scheduled to end on July 12, 2022.

The last accident involving a river cruise ship in Europe occurred two months ago. Eleven people were injured when another Viking river ship, the Viking Aegir, struck a bridge over the Danube River in Slovakia.

As with this case, the company quickly placed a tarp over the bow of the Viking ship to try and hide the damage.

Danger with River Cruising

The most dramatic disaster involving a river cruise ship occurred three years ago when the Viking Cruises’ Viking Sigyn collided with and sank a sightseeing river cruise ship, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), in Budapest three years ago (in May 2019). The Mermaid quickly sank in approximately seven seconds, killing 25 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew members.

Several crew members (who wish to remain anonymous) identified the captain of the Viking ship, who was arrested by the local police, as Yuriy Chaplinsky.

You can see video of the accident as the Viking Sigyn overtook and ran the smaller tourist vessel over as the two ships approached the Margit Bridge in central Budapest here.

The criminal trial involving this incident began in March 2020 and continued throughout 2020. The outcome of the trial had not been decided. The civil trial filed by the survivors and families of the deceased South Korean passengers began in Budapest in January of this year. A final result has not been decided.

In September 2016, another Viking River Cruises’ ship, the Viking Freya (right), struck a rail bridge, crushing the wheelhouse and killing two Hungarian officers who were navigating the river ship. The ship was on its way to Budapest at the time of the deadly accident. (125 people left comments to our article with many former Viking customers defending the inexcusable accident).

In December of 2017, the M/S Swiss Crystal river cruise ship collided with a highway bridge on the Rhine River near Duisburg, Germany, injuring 30 passengers.

On March 21, 2019,  the Scylla Edelweiss experienced an electrical fire and collided with a cargo ship, the Forenso, on the Waal River in the Netherlands.

On April 1, 2019, a collision occurred between the river cruise ship, the Viking Idun, and a tanker, the Chemical Marketer, while the ships were sailing from Antwerp to Ghent. Four passengers were reportedly injured.

On May 21, 2019, an unidentified river cruise ship (some identified the ship as a Viking longship) with 183 passengers aboard, forgot to lower its wheelhouse and struck a bridge in an incident similar to the Viking Freya mishap. Fortunately, no one was killed.

If you are aware of other accidents involving Viking River Cruises or other river cruise ships please let us know.

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A crew member on the Jewel of the Seas informs me that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a total of  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