NCL Holdings president and CEO Frank Dek Rio rang the bell this morning at the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of the five year anniversary of NCL’s listing. Del Rio was later interviewed by CNBC when he was asked about cyclone Grayson, often called the “bomb cyclone” storm, which terrorized the passengers aboard the Norwegian Breakaway as it sailed into the storm while heading back to New York last week.

Smiling, CEO Del Rio stated this morning (video link here) to a national television audience:

NCL Cruise CEO Frank Del Rio  . . . weather can be unpredictable . . . and that’s what happened this weekend . . . the great news is our ship is back in the Caribbean carrying 4,000 happy cruisers . . . so . . . all good. 

Meterologists all agree that the storm was perfectly forecasted well in advance. Many of the traumatized passengers on the Breakaway felt that NCL’s priority was to get back to port in New York to pick up new passengers so NCL would not lose any money. (You can read about NCL recklessly sailing into the storm in this article by Mashable).

Del Rio’s insensitive, flippant comments are typical for this greedy cruise CEO, who made $31,900,000 in 2015 alone.  Last year, he told the audience at last year’s Seatrade Global conference that he loved fewer regulations under President Trump because “they make us money.” In 2005, he defended NCL’s increase in gratuities by saying “every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line.” And in 2005 at the Miami Cruise Shipping trade show, he told the audience that “Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon could be more lucrative than Cuba.” (I couldn’t help tweeting at the time “have you heard of ISIS?”) The next day, fanatics targeted cruise-ship passengers who sailed into the Capital of Tunisa, slaughtering and injuring 38 passengers.

I posted Del Rio’s interview on our Cruise Law News Facebook page, and quickly received the following comments:

  • Weather in the 21st Century is not ALL that “unpredictable.” Responsible Officers have to get up to date conditions and forecasts and make responsible decisions based upon that information. That “responsible decision ” would NOT have been to sail through the conditions the Master took that ship through. “Responsible Corporate Management would not have embarked passengers or planned port calls with passengers embarked,for Mid Winter cruises from Northern latitude Atlantic ports such as New York in this season. Greed can be the ONLY reason for such actions.
  • Clearly, he is totally out of touch and lying through his teeth. The weather had been predicted days prior.
  • Admit nothing deny everything. What a putz.
  • Fat Cat personified.
  • That ship should have cancelled the cruise with the advance weather report they had.

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Photos/Videos: CNBC.

Opening Bell, January 11, 2018 from CNBC.

Norwegian Breakaway This week, a number of passengers contacted our office after returning from the harrowing end of their ill fated cruise aboard NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway.

News accounts indicate that on January 2, 2018, the Breakaway stopped at its private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Videos available online show the weather, initially calm and pleasant, turning rough as the passengers used tenders to return to the cruise ship. This was a foreshadowing of things to come.

By this date, and as early as December 31, 2017, weather forecasters were unanimously predicting that a huge storm would form off the U.S.’s southeast coast and head north later in the week.

But Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) stuck with its itinerary and subjected the passengers to several days of extreme winds and waves as the hurricane-strength storm pounded the cruise ship on January 3rd and 4th. Water leaked into the ship as passengers complained on social media of panic and seasickness with several dozens of frightended passengers sleeping in the ship’s atrium. CBS quoted one passenger as saying that “there were people crying, everyone was throwing up. It was a nightmare. It was so tilted I was shaking.”

Many passengers complained about a lack of communication from the captain.

NCL downplayed the incident which infuriated many of the traumatized passengers.

In one of several statements released by NCL after the Breakaway returned to port in New York, NCL claimed that the cruise ship “encountered stronger than forecasted weather conditions.”

The cruise line’s conduct and lack of transparency are similar to the conduct of Royal Caribbean after the Anthem of the Seas cruised into a major storm which, like the Grayson “bomb cyclone,” was well forecast in advance. The captain of the Anthem claimed that the storm was not accurately forecast, which led Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, to state “Royal Caribbean’s claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers.

Cruise lines ordinarily have a duty of only “reasonable care” under the circumstances. But in instances of rough weather, cruise lines have a much higher duty of care to the passengers. Some characterize this duty as the “highest duty of care” of the passengers when the ship is expected to encounter rough weather.

Our firm previously represented traumatized passengers on the Anthem of the Seas which Royal Caribbean recklessly sailed through a violent storm in 2016. You can see a video of my interview with a New Jersey television station here.

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

January 10, 2018 Update: Passengers Consider Lawsuit After Norwegian Cruise Line Sails Through Winter Storm Grayson (Video).

Image credit: CBS News

NCL Norwegian Breakaway Storm

Adventure of the SeasA local news station in Miami reports that Royal Caribbean used the Adventure of the Seas to take around 3,800 evacuees from St. Thomas, St. Croix and Puerto Rico back to South Florida, following the destruction and chaos caused by Hurricane Maria.

7 News in Miami aired a brief segment on its television program today, showing the Adventure of the Seas returning to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. 

Royal Caribbean and other Miami-based cruise lines have enjoyed good press due to their hurricane relief efforts, which we commented on in Cruise Lines Aid Hurricane-Stricken Caribbean Islands.

But it has not always been smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean in dealing with recent hurricanes. 

The cruise line was recently named in a a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges that Royal Caribbean forced its customers to fly to Texas when it was in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Harvey rather than cancel or modify its August 27th cruise on the Liberty of the Seas which was scheduled to depart from the Port of Galveston. The cruise line refused to cancel the cruise until its passengers had already flown to Texas, unlike other cruise lines which prudently canceled and provided full credits to its customers. 

Royal Caribbean repeatedly told passengers that if they canceled, they would lose the entire cost of the purchased cruise. The passengers and their families then faced catastrophic flooding caused as the Category 4 hurricane flooded south Texas. Read the class action complaint here.   

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Photo credit above: AP Photo / Gerald Herbert via Boston Herald.

 

Hurricane Irwin Cruise ShipHurricane Irma, which continues to strengthen as it heads west toward the Leeward Islands and Virgin Islands, is now a Category 5 storm with winds of over 175 mph (with gusts up to 215 mph) as of this morning’s advisories. The huge storm is predicted to continue west across the Caribbean, north of Dominican Republic/Haiti and Cuba, and then turn to the north, likely hitting the Florida Keys and South Florida by late Saturday / early Sunday morning.

Irma will continue as a category 5 storm for the next few days, although its intensity will decrease to a category 4 with winds of 150 mph. 

The most reliable computer models (the U.S. and European models) show Irma continuing to head west before making a sharp turn to the north towards South Florida, although there are no guarantees exactly where or when that northward turn will occur. 

"Spaghetti models" via Mike’s Weather Page (image below) is my favorite page to follow the progress of the hurricane. You can see the probable path of this dangerous storm heading into the Florida Keys and South Florida here.  

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas was the first cruise ship to alter its itinerary from its original Eastern Caribbean schedule to the Western Caribbean. The Allure’s itinerary was changed to Cozumel, Labadee, and Falmouth. It appears likely that Royal Caribbean’s private destination in Labadee (Haiti) will be directly impacted by Irma later this week; cruises to that destination seem likely to be rescheduled. 

Royal Caribbean’s changes to its itineraries are listed on its Facebook page. The cruise line cancelled the September 8th cruises to the Bahamas by the Enchantment of the Seas and the Majesty of the Seas. Royal Caribbean is saying that the cruise fare and fees for these cruises will be 100% refunded to the original form of payment, and we are also offering a 25% future cruise credit, based on the cruise fare, if a new cruise is booked in the next 30 days.

Regarding the Allure of the Seas (September 10 Western Caribbean), Anthem of the Seas (September 9 Bermuda), Empress of the Seas (September 9 Cuba) and Harmony of the Seas (September 9 Eastern Caribbean), guests are asked to check on updates at the cruise line’s Facebook page.

Royal Caribbean’s Chief Meteorologist, James Van Fleet, who the cruise line hired after the debacle when the Anthem of the Seas sailed into a well-forecasted storm last year, will be on the hot seat responding to questions posed to him on line. Mr. Van Fleet is already fielding inquiries via his Twitter account. The last question posted was "I’m currently on harmony and someone thinks Irma is going to Hurricane Irma Cruise Shipcause us to reenact titanic. Can you confirm?"  (A PR video produced by Royal Caribbean is below.)  It remains to be seen whether Mr. Fleet was hired for public relations purposes or to provide meaningful information and insight to the Royal Caribbean ships at sea.

Carnival will also be changing its fleet’s cruise ship itineraries. The Carnival Glory, scheduled for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, will switch to a Western Caribbean cruise, which will include Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel. Carnival’s changes to the itineraries of the Carnival Magic, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Pride are explained below. 

NCL canceled the three-day cruise to the Bahamas from the port of Miami on the Norwegian Sky scheduled for September 8th, as well as a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Escape scheduled for September 9th. NCL will offer full refunds and 50 percent future cruise credits.

The itineraries of the cruise ships of other lines are certain to change as Irma heads toward Florida. Additional days at sea and more ports of call in places like Roatan and Belize seem likely.

A large number of air carriers are permitting flyers to cancel their scheduled flights to the Caribbean islands, with some adding flights from the islands to Miami to accommodate people wanting to escape the storm. Cruise lines typically do not permit such cancellations and have policies which permit the ships to change itineraries at their sole  discretion. Unless the passengers have purchased insurance applying to this situation, there is little that families themselves can do to cancel their cruises without incurring penalties or forfeiting their fares.

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Photo credit: Top – NOAA via AP; middle – Mike Weather Page. 

HURRICANE IRMA ITINERARY CHANGES (courtesy of Carnival)
September 3, 2017

CARNIVAL GLORY (SEVEN-DAY CRUISE FROM MIAMI)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 2 – Miami Sept. 2 – Miami
Sept. 3 – At Sea Sept. 3 – Half Moon Cay
Sept. 4 – Grand Cayman Sept. 4 – At Sea
Sept. 5 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan) Sept. 5 – St. Thomas
Sept. 6 – Belize Sept. 6 – San Juan
Sept. 7 – Cozumel Sept. 7- Grand Turk
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Miami Sept. 9 – Miami

CARNIVAL MAGIC (SIX-DAY CRUISE FROM PORT CANAVERAL)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – Nassau
Sept. 5 – Cozumel Sept. 5 – At Sea
Sept. 6 – Belize Sept. 6 – Amber Cove (Dominican Republic)
Sept. 7 – Costa Maya Sept. 7- Grand Turk
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral

CARNIVAL SPLENDOR (SIX-DAY CRUISE FROM PORT FORT LAUDERDALE )
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Port Everglades Sept. 3 – Port Everglades
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – Nassau
Sept. 5 – Cozumel Sept. 5 – Half Moon Cay
Sept. 6 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan) Belize Sept. 6 – Grand Turk
Sept. 7 – Belize Sept. 7- Amber Cove (Dominican Republic)
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Port Everglades Sept. 9 – Port Everglades

CARNIVAL PRIDE (SEVEN-DAY CRUISE FROM BALTIMORE)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Baltimore Sept. 3 – Baltimore
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – At Sea
Sept. 5 – Charleston Sept. 5 – At Sea
Sept. 6 – Freeport Sept. 6 – Grand Turk
Sept. 7 – Nassau Sept. 7- Half Moon Cay
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – At Sea Sept. 9 – At Sea
Sept. 10 – Baltimore Sept. 10 – Baltimore 

 

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I received the following information from a regular reader of this blog, who wishes to remain anonymous. 

"Today’s Bild (translates to "Picture", Germany’s largest circulation daily) reports cruise ship Aida Prima was hit by 23 ft waves in the North Sea as it was returning to home port Hamburg on Friday evening from a week-long European itinerary.

All passengers were ordered back to their cabins. Ship is now safely back in port in Hamburg. Per the AIDAprima stormarticle, Aida cruise line confirmed the incident, including injuries to ‘three passengers, ‘two bruises and a bone fracture.’

Per the article, The Elbe (river connecting Hamburg to the North Sea) had been closed in the hurricane for ships – but the authorities made an exception for the Aida Prima. ‘She was allowed to enter and reached the berth at the cruise terminal Steinwerder at 7.45 am. The resulting material damage could not be quantified today.’

The Bild story with stills and video is here, entitled ‘Our chaos night on the Aida.’

In the video, it appears that the ship rocked so violently that the chest-high glass barrier around the bar pool broke, sending water cascading onto deck 15. Furniture is being tossed as passengers and crew make their way across the deck."

Many thanks to the anonymous reader for the information.  You can watch the video on our Facebook page.  

Photo credit: Bild

Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas was damaged after it encountered a storm early this morning during a cruise.

A dozen large windows in the Viking Crown Lounge were reportedly broken, as you can see in a video posted to YouTube. Several panes of glass are also missing from the pool deck.

Passengers reported that the ship heavily listed during the storm.

The ship is the middle of a ten day round trip cruise from Venice. It is currently sailing a sea day and is scheduled to arrive in Santorini tomorrow, assuming its itinerary does not change.

The Rhapsody of the Seas was last damaged by a storm on April 25th of this year. A wave struck the cruise ship early in the morning, breaking the windows of five passenger cabins on deck three, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on deck two and three. We received photographs suggesting that the windows in the passenger cabins were poorly maintained.

Video credit: Heather Barrett YouTube 

A passenger aboard the cruise ship sent photos of the damage which you can see on our Facebook page.  A passenger also sent a video of water cascading down the main stairwell as passengers come up the stairs holding their life vests, around 5:00 A.M.

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

 

 

Rhapsody of the Seas Two weeks ago, five windows on deck three broke on the Rhapsody of the Seas, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on deck three and also on deck two.

So why did the windows break?  We have heard dramatic stories of a “rogue wave” from passengers. Afterward, the captain announced (saying words to the effect) that the cruise ship had been caught between two large swells which caused the ship to flex and this allegedly caused the windows to break.

But photographs and comments from cruise passengers may offer a more simple explanation – that the window frames in question were rusted, and they broke when struck with waves due to their state of disrepair and shoddy maintenance.

The comments come from a seasoned cruiser, who wishes to remain anonymous.  He and his wife were on the third floor of the ship, on the opposite side or the broken windows. He sent photographs of the window in their cabin which was in a state of neglect.  He commented:

“Our window frames were rusted and water came in even when workers were cleaning the windows. Pathetic preventative maintenance.

At the 3rd floor, we were well above the water line but you could clearly see corrosion in the welds which needs to be repaired, not painted over.

For a ship built in 1997, that’s pretty darn pathetic.”

He sent a number of photographs, not of the damaged cabins, but of the window in his unaffected cabin (some of which you can see on our Facebook page).

“This is my window . . . I attach a photo of the whole window, top dead center, missing screw, rust inside and outside of window. Zoom in, top of frame is brass colored, bottom is tarnished brass so bad you would think it was blue wood.”

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Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the SeasLast night / early this morning around 4:A.M – 4:30 A.M., a wave struck the Rhapsody of the Seas, breaking the windows of five passenger cabins on deck three, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on deck three and also on deck two. 

One passenger, Kerry Boyd, tweeted; "Woke up at 4:30 am on our cruise first night when 5 windows on our floor burst open flooding the floor with sea water. All well, but tired"  She tweeted that 60 cabins were flooded.

Another passenger, Todd Scuderi, tweeted a series of three tweets publicly about the incident. 

"I’m on Rhapsody of the Seas. Last night 4am wave hit ship and knocked out my window and 4 others on deck 3. lucky we weren’t swept out.

(2) ceilings and walls collapsed. We were all bleeding and hallway was flooded. Royal Caribbean has not handled this well.

(3) ship staying in Corsica till 12am to "fix it" This was only night 1 of 9 nights."

The Rhapsody will have its broken cabin windows replaced in Corsica.

Please contact us if you are a crew member or other passengers with additional information. 

Photo Credit: Benyoch CC BY-SA 3.0 commons / wikimedia

Have a thought?  Please join the discussion on our Facebook page

April 26 2016 Update: a comment left on our Facebook page: 

"Freak wave hitting Rhapsody o.t.Seas… Ron & my Cabin Windows scattered, hughe wave crushing in at 4am/25th April, while we were asleep. Cabin totally flooded, we were covered in Blood, Seawater, scattered glass, ceiling panels, insulation, metall racks and debris, which used to be cabin interior. Partition Walls caved in, Doors crushed and bent, stuck in the frame with passengers trapped inside.

So far we are ok, bruises and cuts taken care off, most luggage, clothes rescued, but missing Glasses, Medication, Mobile Phone…probably at the bottom of the ocean.
Our "well being" mentally wise is not really ‘back to normal"…. we are very much shaken up.
Very, very poor Handling of us Survivors by Company…. took 7 hours to get one person saying "i will take care of you"….and 15hours for the Captain to talk to us…!!!!"

From another passenger on our Facebook page:

"We were disembarked from this ship yesterday along with 50 other passengers. Some are lucky to be alive after their windows cracked, sea water poured in & they were trapped in their cabins.

The Captain made an announcement & said that the ship had been caught between 2 large swells which caused the ship to flex & popped the Windows. We have just landed at Heathrow. Came via Orly & now have to get to Gatwick to collect our car. R Carribbean v unsympathetic & some passengers were injured & very shaken."

Statement by Royal Caribbean:

The cruise line issued the following statement, which is posted on the Cruise Hive site.

"On Monday, April 25, while sailing to Ajaccio, Corsica, Rhapsody of the Seas encountered inclement weather. Five stateroom windows on the third deck were broken, resulting in water incursion. Six rooms were damaged, and carpeting in some nearby hallways and staterooms on deck three was soaked by water. No serious injuries were reported. The windows were replaced and the ship resumed her itinerary.

Because of the soaked flooring, which could not be immediately replaced without causing great inconvenience, 45 guests were relocated to other staterooms, and 44 departed the ship in Corsica. We have compensated all the affected guests with a full refund and future cruise certificate in the total amount of the cruise fare they paid for their sailing, as well as handling accommodations and travel costs for those who left the ship."

A newspaper in New Zealand is the latest to report on the fiasco.

May 10 2016 Update:  Rusted Window Frames on the Rhapsody of the Seas? and Photos on Facebook.

This evening Royal Caribbean announced via Twitter that that it’s "closely watching a large storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras. We want to be extra cautious when it comes to weather in the area." The cruise line decided that it is canceling the last two days of the current Anthem of the Seas cruise which will skip Barbados and St Kitts in order to "avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home."

Is this the same cruise line which recklessly sailed into a much larger storm three weeks ago?

The forecasted wind and wave conditions seem modest compared to the weather conditions forecast prior to the disastrous cruise on February 6th when the cruise ship sailed into waves over 30 feet and encountered hurricane strength winds.

So why the cautious approach today? Is this a cruise line that really learned its lesson?  Is this the result of new decision makers back in Miami who decide whether the Royal Caribbean ships will encounter rough weather? Remember, Royal Caribbean announced that the last storm revealed what the cruise line said were "gaps in our planning system that we are addressing."

Royal Caribbean also said that it was strengthening its storm avoidance policy, and allegedly added resources at its corporate headquarters in Miami to provide additional guidance to its captains. 

So is the decision this evening to cut the cruise short the result of more cautious meteorologists and fewer macho captains?  I doubt it. The weather reports seem pretty tame. 

It seems that the decision to cancel the remainder of the Anthem cruise is motivated more in order to avoid bad press than bad weather. Why? Passengers are reporting that over 65 people have come down with symptoms of the dreaded norovirus. A code red is underway. If there are 65 official reports, chances are that the true number is much higher. There will be what the cruise lines call "enhanced" cleaning when the ship returns to New Jersey on Wednesday in an effort to kill the noro.  Royal Caribbean’s reputation can’t take a massive noro outbreak on the heels of subjecting its guests to a massive storm earlier this month.

So what happens when the cruise ship returns to port 2 days early?  If this were truly just a weather related event, then the passengers, whose flights home are still scheduled two days later, should be able to stay on the ship. But if passengers are forced to leave the ship early for the anticipated super cleaning, it would seem that Royal Caribbean is more concerned with eradicating norovirus from its huge cruise ship than risking its guests encountering another round of rough weather.  

Anthem of the Seas Captain's Letter

Today, Miami lawyers filed suit on behalf of a cruise passenger who sailed aboard the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas on Sunday, February 7th. The Lipcon law firm, based here in Miami, has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Royal Caribbean in Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Anyone who has read this blog in the last two weeks knows how I feel about the cruise in question. There is little doubt that the cruise line acted recklessly by ignoring weather forecasts of hurricane strength winds and 30 foot waves of this Altantic winter storm.  The winds strengthened, as to be expected in a storm like this, to well over 100 MPH. Many passengers experienced Anthem of the Seas Storm Lawsuitterrifying experiences where some passengers were fearful of losing their lives and those of their loved ones on the cruise ship.

The Anthem of the Seas returned to New Jersey with severe damage to its propulsion system, among other damage.

The captain of the Anthem of the Seas said during a talk to the passengers after the storm that he expected waves of only 12 to 15 foot waves.  But weather forecasts indicate that much higher waves, to over 30 feet, were expected. This means that the cruise line did not provide accurate weather reports to the captain or he ignored them. Navigation officers are required to up load “passage plans” pursuant to the the International Safety Management (ISM) codes before they sail. This information will quickly reveal exactly what weather conditions the captain anticipated during the ill-fated cruise in question.

ABC reports that any passenger who was on the ship can be represented in the lawsuit, which covers both passengers who suffered physical injuries and those passengers who are alleging only severe emotional, psychological and emotional stress.

You can read the lawsuit papers here.

At least one other lawsuit was filed last week by a lawyer in Houston, Texas.

Our firm will be representing passengers who sustained physical injuries during the storm.

Cruise lines ordinarily have a duty of only “reasonable care” under the circumstances. But in instances of rough weather, cruise lines have a much higher duty of care toward the passengers. Some characterize this duty as the “highest duty of care” of the passengers when the ship is expected to encounter rough weather.

Can it seriously be argued that Royal Caribbean exercised “high care” when it sailed 4,500 passengers, including the elderly and children, into a winter storm forecast to bash the ship with hurricane strength winds and waves over 30 feet?

Read our last article on the Anthem of the Seas fiasco.