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"Everything the cruise lines don't want you to know" is the motto of this award winning maritime law blog authored by Miami lawyer Jim Walker.

Several quests aboard the Mariner of the Seas report that a passenger who went overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship tonight has been located and rescued from the water.

I first heard of the overboard and the rescue from updates on Twitter from @kcjarvis who posted information, via a live video “periscope” app, operated under “Mariner of the Seas #rcperiscopers.”

He reported that “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” announcements were made on the ship as it headed toward Nassau. Search and rescue protocols as were then followed.  @kcjarvis  provided updates from guests on the Royal Caribban cruise ship.

Later, he dramatically stated that the captain of the Royal Caribbean ship announced that the overboard person had been successfully rescued and brought aboard the ship.

The Mariner of the Seas left Miami on the late afternoon of March 18, 2019 for a four night cruise to the Bahamas (Nassau and Coco Cay). The ship is scheduled to return to Miami on the early morning of March 22nd.

It is unusual (but great news) for an overboard person to be rescued (and so quickly) and to have an account of such good news covered via a live video.

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Photo credit: Spaceaero2 – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Video credit: @kcjarvis / Mariner of the Seas #rcperiscopers

NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway failed a recent sanitation inspection conducted by the United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors in New Orleans, Lousianna.

The purpose of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to assist the cruise ship industry to “prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.” VSP operates under the authority of the U.S. Public Health Service Act.

The VSP applies only to cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. Few countries outside of the U.S. inspect cruise ships for sanitation problems.

USPH sanitation inspectors conduct inspections twice a year on cruise ships when they are in a U.S. port. The inspections are supposedly a surprise, although many crew members have stated that federal inspectors sometimes give advance notice of the inspections to the cruise ships. A score of 85 or below constitutes a failed sanitation score, and often leads to the firing of the shipboard Food & Beverage department heads and/or managers and always result in increased work by the shipboard employees.

On March 10, 2019, sanitation inspectors noted that NCL failed to follow up with ill crew members with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) on the Norwegian Breakaway; other violations included flies and fruit flies in several of the grills and bars; a pot wash area was heavily soiled with food debris and several galleys were dirty. You can read the USPH report here.

The Breakaway last received a score of 98 in April of last year. The cruise ship has averaged in the low 90’s over the course of the last six years since its maiden cruise. It received a score of 100 in June of 2015.

A year ago, Market Watch published a comprehensive article, by reporter Jacob Passy, titled Record Number of Cruise Ships Failed Health and Safety Inspections in 2017, concluding that there were 14 instances where a cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection that year. No NCL ships failed inspections in 2017. The article found that Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships received five failing grades, in addition to one failure in 2018.

Carnival claimed that its food handling and preparation are of the “highest quality,” which seemed questionable regarding the details of the scores in 2017 on the Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), Carnival Vista (79), Carnival Legend (83), and Carnival Paradise (83). The Carnival Liberty failed in 2018 with a score of only 83.

The Breakaway has not yet submitted a Corrective Action Report in response to the failed score.

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Photo credit: Top – Norwegian Breakaway – Ad Meskens – CC BY-SA, 4.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – draft USPH report – anonymous.

Carnival Cruise Line suddenly and unexpectedly canceled all future port stops to Antigua, according to the AntiguaNewsRoom today.  Carnival’s announcement comes two weeks after Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne accused the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (“FCCA”) of “exploiting the region.”

As reported by the Daily Observer on February 26th, Prime Minister Browne accused the association of “exploiting Caribbean countries for lower visitor tax rates:”

“The reality is that the FCCA is literally exploiting the Caribbean. So you will charge, for example, thousands of dollars for your visitors to the Caribbean – and I know that the cruise business is capital intensive – but when you are giving these countries five or six dollars per head this cannot cover the capital costs for the infrastructure,” Browne said, pointing to Heritage Quay as an example of heavy infrastructure cost.”

Prime Minister Browne explained that the only way for small countries like Antigua to fight the FCCA is to form a regional port facility.

“Unless the entire Caribbean comes together and forms a regional port facility and mandate that [the Cruise Associations] pay more, we will continue to end up in problems and have to subsidise that sector. . . ”

Of course, the prime minister is right. This is not the first time that Carnival Cruise Line has done this to Antigua. Almost 10 years ago, as we reported in Carnival Drops Antigua Like A Hot Potato, Carnival has dropped Antigua from its regular seven night Southern Caribbean cruise itinerary. Antigua’s tourism minister at the time, John Maginley, told the Miami Herald that Carnival informed him of their decision via e-mail: “There was no discussion, none,” Maginely said. “We’re supposed to be partners in this thing, and all we got was an e-mail sent to the agent in Antigua that Carnival is pulling its boat.”

I wrote at the time that “this should serve as a wake up call for all ports of call which are dependent on cruise lines.  Carnival holds all of the cards in situations like this.  The notion that a sovereign country like Antigua is an equal “partner” to an 800 pound gorilla like Carnival is fanciful.  If a cruise line can make a better deal with an island next door, which charges a lower head tax, has fewer environmental restrictions, or is willing to foot the bill for a larger dock, then it’s ‘see ya later’ as far as the cruise line goes.”

Carnival Cruise Line’s website has already been updated to eliminate all cruises to Antigua.

Carnival’s latest pull out of Antigua will cost the island many millions of dollars in losses to its tour operators, vendors and other local businesses. Carnival, with its tax-free billions of dollars in income, will not miss a beat.

Cruise lines like Carnival remain selfish, fickle lovers.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

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Story credit: Cruise Fever Carnival Cruise Line Canceling All Ship Visits to Caribbean Cruise Port.

Photo credit: Carnival Breeze – Caribbean 360

 

A few minutes ago, the Regal Princess rescued two survivors of a small place crash in the Caribbean.

The Princess cruise ship was heading toward St. Thomas when the captain announced that there were two people in the water after the airplane crashed.

The cruise ship changed course to reach the site of the airplane crash. The vessel’s crew deployed a rescue boat and retrieved a life raft and two people from the plane. One passenger who contacted our office stated that the survivors were located in their life raft and waved to the cruise passengers who were cheering for them when they were rescued. The captain reportedly stated that both people are safe and doing well. The plane reportedly sank and apparently there was not a fuel slick or any debris from the crash.

A Coast Guard aircraft reportedly circled over the rescue.

Several passenger went to social media to report on the rescue:

A video of the rescue is shown below via Facebook:

Plane crash rescue at sea. They were saved! Good job to the US coast guard and the #regalprincess crew!

Posted by John Becker on Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Photo and video credit: Photo top – anonymous; photo middle – “SH” (anonymous)  video bottom – John Becker.

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High winds reportedly struck the Norwegian Escape last night, causing injuries to passengers as “chairs, tables, glass, people went flying to one side of the ship:”

This morning (around 11 hours later), Norwegian Cruise Line tweeted that on Sunday, March 3rd, just before midnight, the Norwegian Escape encountered a “sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots, which resulted in the ship heeling to the port side …”  NCL tweeted that several passengers and crew members were injured and received medical treatment.

NCL denied that there was damage to the cruise ship which continues on toward Port Canaveral for an anticipated early arrival on March 5th.

The Escape left the New York area on the afternoon of March 3 heading for Port Canaveral, Florida for a scheduled 1:00 PM arrival on  March 5. It is scheduled to arrive in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas on March 6 and Nassau, Bahamas on March 7, returning to the New York area on March 10.

NCL says that the current itinerary and the next sailing are not expected to be impacted.

NCL says that the “gust of wind” was “sudden” and “unexpected.” It remains to be seen whether there were up to date weather conditions and forecasts available to the navigational officers on the NCL cruise ship. I am not a meteorologist, but it was well known that rough weather and high winds were moving east across the U.S. as a series of deadly tornadoes struck several states before moving offshore yesterday. (See weather map below).

 

NCL is facing litigation arising out of its decision to sail into a huge storm called a “bomb cyclone” which formed off the eastern coast of the U.S. at the beginning of January 2018. The NCL cruise executives claimed that the weather was unpredictable. Read: NCL CEO Del Rio on the Norwegian Breakaway Bomb Cyclone Fiasco: “Weather Can Be Unpredictable . . . (It’s) All Good.”

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March 5, 2019 Update: A passenger posted a video (via Facebook) shortly after the cruise ship heeled.

Posted by Tony Ciaramello on Monday, March 4, 2019

WFTV covered the arrival of the Norwegian Escape at Port Canaveral today, with several ambulances shown arriving at the port to pick up people injured on the cruise ship.

Photo credit: Norwegian Escape – Arno Redenius, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons/ wikimedia; maps – national weather services, MarineTraffic. Video credit – Tony Ciaromello amd WFTV.

The Carnival Victory reportedly lost power for several hours late this afternoon, according to passengers posting on social media.

Passengers on the ship report that the at some point after 5:00 P.M., the Carnival Victory lost power and the ship went dark. (Several passengers mentioned that the ship lost power as early as 3:15 P.M.). A generator was started but the ship remained drifting without propulsion for several hours.

The Carnival Victory is on a 4 Night Western Caribbean cruise, having left Miami on February 25th for Key West, Florida. The Carnival cruise ship called on Cozumel, Mexico yesterday (February 27th) and is currently north of Cuba at this time. Before the power failure, the ship was scheduled to arrive back in Miami tomorrow morning at 8:00 A.M.

Shortly before 8:00 P.M. this evening, Carnival announced that the cruise ship regained power and would arrive on time tomorrow morning. Carnival stated:

“Carnival Victory experienced a brief power outage earlier this afternoon. Power and all services have been fully restored and the ship continues on the way to Miami for an on time arrival tomorrow morning.”\

Passengers on the cruise ship are now stating that the air conditioning has finally come back on and the ship is sailing back to Miami and has increased its speed from around 11 knots to 20 knots. Carnival did not disclose the exact nature of the power failure.

The Carnival Victory experienced mechanical problems in October of last year.  Carnival stated that an unspecified “issue” was affecting the ship’s “maximum cruising speed.” A letter to the ship’s guests signed by the Master of the cruise ship stated that although technicians were doing the “necessary work,” the ship would operate on a modified itinerary. The ship sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas rather than to Cozumel. Carnival offered its guests token compensation of only a $50 onboard credit.

Last year, Carnival announced that the ship is part of a $2 billion enhancement program where the cruise line is rebranding a number of its ships.  The Carnival Victory will be dry docked in March of 2020 before returning to the fleet as Carnival Radiance. The ship will undergo major refurbishments including specialty dining facilities, aqua parks, and enhanced accommodations and amenities.

Power losses of cruise ships are a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including problems with the Carnival Elation, Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Vista as well as the Carnival owned AdoniaCaribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, and Costa neoRiviera.

2017 saw a number of Carnival cruise ships experiencing engine problems, such as the Carnival Dream, which was forced to miss a port in Mexico in August and then limped back to New Orleans, as well as propulsion issues plaguing the Carnival FantasyCarnival Paradise, and Carnival Splendor.

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The United States State Department issued another travel warning for the Bahamas today.

The U.S. State Department reissued a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution Due to Crime” for the Bahamas, stating:

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas. Although the family islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands . . .  Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas. Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists . . .”

There were three travel warnings issued by the U.S. last year for the Bahamas, by the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in the Bahamas 2018 Crime & Safety Report, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau as well as one warning by Canada.

Like other U.S. warnings about the Bahamas, this latest warning primarily involves Nassau (New Providence), not the “outer islands” which are not frequented by cruise ships. The OSAC estimates that there are approximately 370,000 people living in the Bahamas, with around 70% (around 250,000-260,000) of the population residing in crime-filled New Providence. Another another 15% (55,000) live on Grand Bahama. The rest of the population is dispersed over numerous islands (commonly referred to as the “Family Islands”), where crime is substantially less than in Nassau.

The per capita murder and rape rates for the Bahamas as a whole are dramatically higher than any port city in the United States, including Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean, in addition to some other cruise lines, has issued crime warnings for Nassau in the past, although it recently watered down its language after the Minister of Tourism complained.

The U.S. has issued more travel warnings for the Bahamas in the last decade than for all of the other Caribbean ports combined.

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Images credit: Top – Google map; middle –  TampAGS, for AGS Media – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

According to videos posted on the popular Noticias de Cruceros, two cruise ships operated by MSC Cruises collided at the port in Buenos Aires yesterday.

The YouTube videos shows the MSC Orchestra and the MSC Poesia colliding at the port. There are no reports of personal injury, not is there any explanation for the collision.

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Photo and Video Credit: Noticias de Cruceros and Crocieristi Italiani.

 

Crocieristi Italiani posted additional videos, which provide a clearer perspective of the collision.

NUOVI VIDEO DELL'INCIDENTEMsc Orchestra, e Msc Poesia, hanno avuto l'altro ieri un incontro molto ravvicinato al porto di Buenos Aires.Sulla nostra pagina Crocieristi Italiani, troverete 5 video dell'incidente ripresi da un'angolazioni diverseEntra qui di seguito nella nostra pagina, e metti MI PIACE.https://www.facebook.com/crocieristitropeani/🎥 YT Noticias de Cruceros#Msc #MscOrchestra #MscPoesia #Crociere #Cruise #Cruises #MscCrociere #Ship #Croisiere #Cruceros #Crocieristi #CrocieristiItaliani #Incidente #crash #accident

Posted by Crocieristi Italiani on Friday, February 22, 2019

On Thursday, February 14, 2019 a cruise passenger was reportedly seriously injured in a bus excursion accident in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

We were informed that the passenger was injured in a bus/auto accident while on a cruise sponsored tour after the Allure of the Seas arrived in San Juan. The women reportedly had to be airlifted from the island. Her son was reportedly on another excursion which was cut short to get him back to be with his family. The woman’s family departed from the Allure following the excursion accident.

At this point, we have received no details regarding either the accident or the cruise guest’s injuries.

The Allure of the Seas left Miami on February 10th and called on Philipsburg, St. Maarten on February 13th. The ship arrived in San Juan, on February 14th. After this accident, the ship was delayed several hours leaving San Juan and arrived at the private destination in Labadee, Haiti yesterday. The Allure will return  to Miami tomorrow.

There have been at least seven bus excursions throughout the Caribbean in the last ten years where Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises passengers have been killed or seriously injured, including the following incidents:

In 2017 and 2016, there were bus excursion accidents in Mexico and Jamaica which involved the deaths and serious injuries of dozens of cruise passengers.

In January 2017, a Celebrity Cruises excursion bus collided with a car during a cruise sponsored trip in New Zealand, leaving a half dozen cruise passengers from the Celebrity Solstice seriously injured.

In 2015, Celebrity passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed and injured in an excursion bus accident in Tortola.

In 2012, there were two cruise excursion bus crashes in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers. Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Serenade of the Seas were injured during an excursion in St. Thomas. A Royal Caribbean sponsored excursion tour bus crashed in St. Martin and injured passengers from the Freedom of the Seas.

In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  You can read information about the accident in an article titled Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami.

You can read about prior cruise excursion accidents here.

We represented passengers against Royal Caribbean and Celebrity in litigation involving several of these accidents.

Cruise lines face legal liability when passengers are injured or killed during sponsored excursions. Cruise lines have a duty to vet the excursions companies and warn of dangers in foreign ports of call. Cruise lines can also be held responsible for negligent hiring and retention of the transportation companies and for vicarious liability based on theories of agency. Royal Caribbean often represents that the tours which it sells to its passengers are allegedly “the best” excursions using “the best” tour operators and “the best” transportation.

Cruise lines collect hundreds of millions of dollars each year promoting and selling shore excursions in foreign ports of call, and are not even subject to U.S. taxes on this highly profitable business.  Yet, after their cruise guests are injured or killed during these excursions, they claim that their local agents are “independent contractors” who are not subject to jurisdiction here in the U.S.

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Photo credit: Daniel Christensen CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

After the Norwegian Epic finally arrived in San Juan (after it experienced partial power loss causing NCL to cancel ports of call in Tortola and St. Thomas yesterday) reportedly via tugs on the starboard side, the NCL ship struck a pier in port and collapsed a portion of the dock.

TweetsWithTito videotaped the Norwegian Epic striking the dock.

The accident reminds me of an incident when the Celebrity Infinity crashed into a dock in Ketchikan, Alaska in June of 2016, or perhaps when the MSC Amonia struck a small dock in Roatan last year.

Perhaps some cruise guests will say that this was an appropriate end to a disappointing cruise.

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Video credit: TweetsWith Tito via Twitter

Update: It appears that NCL is reportedly offering a pittance to the guests, only a 50% credit on a future cruise, and no refund of any kind. As one cruise passenger posted on Twitter: