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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.

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

 

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:

The Norwegian Epic sustained power loss yesterday during its current cruise to the Caribbean, requiring the NCL cruise ship to divert to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Epic left Port Canaveral, Florida on February 9th heading toward Tortola, British Virgin Islands where it was scheduled to arrive this morning around 8:00 a.m. It was then scheduled to call on St Thomas, US Virgin Islands tomorrow (February 13th) and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas on February 15th before returning to Port Canaveral on February 16th.

The cruise ship reportedly sustained power loss to one or two engines (reports via social media vary) which reduced its speed to around 11 knots. It has slowly sailed a couple hundred miles toward San Juan for the last 24 hours. It is now approaching San Juan after NCL cancelled the ports of call on Tortola and St. Thomas yesterday.

I have received several emails from passengers on the ship as well as cruise guests’ family members asking for what options they have after the aborted cruise in question.

It is anticipated that NCL will refer the guests to its terms and conditions which permit it to “cancel, advance, postpone or substitute any scheduled sailing or itinerary without prior notice” due to “mechanical difficulties or any other reason whatsoever.” It is largely a matter of whether NCL executives wish to extend good will to their customers.

Travelling with Bruce’s up-and-coming YouTube page (video bottom) was one of the first to report on the power failure. Cruise guests also left comments on Twitter.

Cruise guests Mr. Wozniak posted a humorous observation on Twitter yesterday, stating that he was on a “. . . broken cruise ship where everyone is freaking out. The people watching is amazing right now. You would think we were on the Titanic with the way some people are acting.”

This is not the first time in recent history that NCL has modified or cancelled cruises due to mechanical problems.

NCL cancelled a cruise on the Norwegian Jade due to an unspecified “mechanical issue” last November which left thousands of passengers in San Juan. NCL arranged for charter flights for many of its guests to fly back to Miami, and reimbursed those passengers who made their own flight arrangements. NCL also refunded the cruise fares and extended a future cruise credit based on the cruise fare paid.

Over one year ago, NCL had to suspend a cruise on the Norwegian Gem due to mechanical issues related to the ship’s azipod system. The cruise was suspended in Barbados. NCL flew the passengers back to New York and later offered a 25% discount on a future cruise.

The Norwegian Star underwent a series of azipod problems in December of 2016 and in January/February of 2017 during Asian and Australian itineraries, which resulted in cancellation of the cruises and refunds and cruise credits to the guests following widespread protests on the ship (photo above left).

Update: Norwegian Epic Crashes Into Dock in San Juan – some may say a fitting end to a disappointing cruise.

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A fire broke out on the Carnival Sensation as the Carnival cruise ship was returning to Miami at the end of a short cruise to the Western Caribbean. The cruise ship left Miami, Florida on February 7th to Key West and was scheduled to call on Cozumel, Mexico and then return to Miami today.

The Sensation was on the last night of a four day cruise to the Western Caribbean when the fire reportedly started around 3:00 a.m on the last night, according to a passenger who wishes to remain anonymous. She stated that the fire occurred on deck 6 aft.  Another passenger posted the following information and a photo of the aftermath of the fire on her Twitter account:

A producer at CNN was aboard the ship and took photographs and posted information about the fire on her Twitter page. Cruise guests donned life vests and crew members appeared wearing fire gear. Deck six reportedly smelled of smoke and fans were used to try and blow the smoke away:

She also commented that when the Sensation was heading from Key West toward Cozumel, a crew member was medevaced (on February 9th), requiring the ship to head back toward Key West. The passengers missed port in Cozumel.

Another cruise passenger commented on the smoke “so thick you could not see:”

Carnival responded to the tweets by denying that there was a fire and calling the incident a “smoke event.”

There have been other instances where cruise passengers reported that a fire occurred during a cruise which Carnival denied.  I call this the “smoke but no fire” excuse.

In March of 2016, there was a significant fire on the Carnival Splendor which disabled the ship. Carnival characterized the incident as involving “only-smoke-but-no-fire.” The Splendor had to be towed back to port after the fire. The final Coast Guard report stated that the fire burned for over nine hours before it was finally extinguished.

We have heard Carnival characterize the fires as “smoke events” before, like a fire on the Carnival Pride in 2015.  Carnival even tried to convince the passengers after a fire broke out on the Splendor that what they smelled was just a “flameless fire.” You can hear “there’s-smoke-but-no-flames-or-fire” characterization on this announcement recorded on this YouTube video of the Splendor fire which disabled the ship.

Carnival released the following statement after this latest fire or, as Carnival calls it, the “smoke event:”

“Carnival Sensation reported a smoke event early Monday morning while the ship was on its way back to its homeport of Miami and the conclusion of a five-day journey.  Smoke was coming from a housekeeping storage area on Deck 6, but when first responders arrived, they confirmed there was no fire.  Guests were alerted by public announcements and some guests near the source of the smoke were asked to evacuate their staterooms.  Both the captain and the cruise director made subsequent public announcements to update guests. Some guests waited in public areas and we provided refreshments; others returned to their staterooms once they were notified that the situation was under control.  Guests are now disembarking in a routine manner and the ship’s next sail, another five-day cruise, is scheduled to depart as planned Monday afternoon.”

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Photo credit: Top – Amanda Jackson via Twitter.

Update:

After I published this article, cruise passenger Amanda Jackson posted on Twitter an audio recording of the Cruise Director repeatedly referring to the “fire” (the “fire is under control,” etc.). Cruise passengers also recall being awoken by an announcement where Carnival stated that there was a fire multiple times.

Another Carnival passenger on the cruise ship also posted about the fire on Twitter after we published this article. She commented “the smoke was so thick that I couldn’t see/breathe:”

The Mariner of the Seas returned to the port of Miami this evening due to an injured passenger requiring emergency medical treatment.

A passenger on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship informed me that there was an “alpha call today for the sports deck” earlier today. The ship returned to Miami and an ambulance took the injured man from the port.  It is unknown exactly how the passenger was injured, although there are comments on social media (above) that the man may have fractured his pelvis.

The Mariner of the Seas left Miami yesterday on a two night cruise and was scheduled to spend the day at CocoCay in the Bahamas and then return  to Miami tomorrow (February 9th). The ship reportedly couldn’t tender in CocoCay due to high winds.

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The Sun Sentinel recently reported on a lawsuit filed against Holland America Line arising out of a stroke suffered by a 65 year old woman while aboard the M/S Zuiderdam in March of 2018.

Lila Graciela Kohn Gale reportedly suffered a hemorrhagic stroke shortly after the HAL cruise ship left Ft. Lauderdale at the start of a seven day Caribbean cruise. Although the medical emergency occurred less than five hours after the ship left Port Everglades, when the cruise ship was likely less than 100 miles from the South Florida coast, the ship did not contact the U.S. Coast Guard in order to request an emergency medical evacuation.

Mr. and Ms. Gales reportedly enjoyed traveling together on cruises.  Mr. Gale described his wife, prior to the cruise, as a vibrant, fun loving, bilingual therapist and counselor.

Ms. Gale lost consciousness around 8:30 p.m. on the first evening of the cruise; the ship’s doctor, Socrates Lopez, assessed Ms. Gale and quickly determined that she required a CT scan of her brain and an emergency consult with a neurologist or neurosurgeon. However, instead of calling the Coast Guard and requesting a medevac, the ship’s medical staff reportedly left Ms. Gales untreated despite her worsening condition. It then sent her via a tugboat to a hospital in Freeport, Bahamas, Rand Memorial Hospital, around 11:00 p.m., after giving her husband a medical bill for $3,500.  Ms. Gales arrived at the hospital in Freeport shortly after midnight, but the public hospital did not have a neurosurgeon, neurologist, or even a functioning CT scan.

According to the lawsuit (which you can read here), a doctor in the Bahamas made the decision to transfer Ms. Gale to Broward Health Medical Center, a comprehensive stroke center in Ft. Lauderdale, but the airport was also closed for the night.  The next morning, Ms. Gale arranged for an air ambulance (at an expenses to him of $15,000 which HAL refused to pay) to fly his wife from the Bahamas to Broward Health where she finally arrived more than 15 hours after her stroke on the cruise ship.  Ms. Gale required emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain in order to try and minimize the extent of her cerebral injuries

The lawsuit alleges that the delay in treatment cause an excessive amount of Ms. Gale’s brain tissue to die, leaving her with “devastating physical, cognitive and neurological deficits which require extensive medical care and treatment around the clock.”  Her lawyer, Tom Scolaro of Leesfield Scolaro P.A. in Miami, (as quoted in the Sun Sentinel article) states that Ms. Gale is now  “severely disabled” requiring  “24-hour round-the-clock nursing care.” The Chicago Tribune, which also covered the tragic story in an article titled ‘I Want Justice’: Suburban Family Sues Cruise Ship Operator For Not Airlifting Woman Who Had Stroke On Board, further explained that Ms. Gale “cannot walk and struggles with language while her memory, perception and concentration skills have been impaired.” She now lives in pain at a nursing home and is not expected to recover enough to return home.

The irony of this sad case is is that HAL claims that it is an “industry leader in cruise medicine.” It advertises to its mostly elderly cruise customers that it can disembark them “via Coast Guard helicopter if medically appropriate and logistically possible in relation to the ship’s distance from land.”

Medically Appropriate?

Based on the facts presented, there appears to be no dispute that it was “medically appropriate,” if not absolutely necessary, to have arranged for Ms. Gale to receive comprehensive treatment at a stroke center as soon as possible.  The facts alleged are that her brain was “slowly dying;” sending her via a tugboat to an ill-equipped hospital in the Bahamas without qualified and experienced specialists appears to be an undeniably ill-conceived and callous decision under the circumstances.

Logistically Possible?

And there appears to be little dispute that it was “logistically possible” (in relation to the ship’s distance from land) for the U.S. Coast Guard to dispatch a helicopter to fly 100 miles to medevac Ms. Gale from the cruise ship.

We have written about over 150 medevacs of passengers and crew members by the Coast Guard from cruise ships since 2011 (our list is admittedly not complete).  In the last four years alone, there have been at least twenty  medevacs via helicopter where the Coast Guard flew in excess of 100 miles to the cruise ships to hoist ill passengers aboard and then fly them an equal distance to a land-based hospital in the U.S. with appropriate medical facilities and experts.

The last reported medevac, just five days ago, from a cruise ship involved a Coast Guard helicopter which flew 200 miles to the Norwegian Star west of San Diego in order to medically evacuate a passenger with a heart condition.

Shorty before Christmas last year, the Coast Guard flew a distance of 402 miles to rescue a passenger suffering from kidney failure from the Anthem of the Seas in the Atlantic so that he could receive emergency medical treatment in North Carolina.

Coast Guard Helicopters Fly Thousands of Miles a Year to Rescue Sick Passengers During Cruises

The Coast Guard also conducted the following medevacs in the last four years, each in excess of 100 miles:

These distances are to the cruise ship; the Coast Guard helicopters obviously have to fly an equal distance back to land. (There may be other emergency medical rescues via helicopter; this list is not exhaustive).

In addition to these medevacs by the U.S. Coast Guard, we have written about long distance emergency medical evacuations conducted by navy and air forces in Europe involving distances of several hundred miles, such as this case in 2017 involving the P&O Aurora where a Portuguese Air Force helicopter flew nearly 600 kilometers (photo above right) from the coast of Portugal to rescue an ill cruise passenger at sea.

Strokes Require FAST Medical Treatment – Not A Slow Boat to the Bahamas

All first year medical or nursing students know the “FAST” acronym regarding a stroke:  Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services. It is universally recognized there is a limited time period in which to treat a stroke before a patient suffers irreversible, serious neurological deficits. Failures of the type alleged in this sad case typically appear to involve incompetent shipboard medical staff.

The Delayed Care of Christina Marie Ricci

We are aware of at least one other recent instance of delayed and substandard shipboard care and a refusal to request a Coast Guard medevac involving a young woman who sustained a stroke on a Carnival cruise ship.

In 2015, 24 year-old Christina Marie Ricci was a passenger aboard the Carnival Victory when she suffered a stroke just eight hours after the cruise left Miami. According to her mother’s account, instead of requesting a Coast Guard medevac, the Carnival cruise ship, which was off the coast of Florida, sailed on to Key West as her medical condition worsened. Once there, about six hours after her stroke, Christina was taken to a non-trauma care facility unit, where she was assessed and then eventually flown to Miami’s trauma hospital, Jackson Memorial. Her treating doctors at Jackson informed her family that they could have managed her medical care if the cruise line had timely requested a Coast Guard medevac from the ship.

Christina died 19 days later, without regaining consciousness.

That’s why most competent ship physicians will not hesitate to contact the nearest Coast Guard station and discuss a passenger’s symptoms with a Coast Guard flight surgeon in order to request a medevac.

I have never heard of the Coast Guard refusing to dispatch a helicopter to a cruise ship involving a victim of a stroke, heart attack or other serious medical emergency, particularly where the ship was less than 100 miles from a state-of-the-art stroke center in the U.S.

The Coast Guard Does Not Charge Cruise Passengers or Cruise Lines for Emergency Medical Care

The expenses of a Coast Guard medevac are never charged to the ill cruise passenger and are paid for 100% by the federal government. Cruise passengers do not have to have medical insurance in order to reimburse the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard also do not charge the cruise line for the medevac of their ill guests who require emergency care ashore, which makes the alleged failure of the medical staff aboard the M/S Zuiderdam even more inexplicable and troubling.

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Story credits: Sun Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, CBS 4 Miami (video).

Photo of M/S Zuiderdam – Copyright © 2008 K. Krallis, SV1XV – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Photos of Ms. Gale – via Chicago Tribune, CBS 4 Miami.

Photo of Christina Marie Ricci – Lisa Ricci.

Medevac Photo Top – U.S. Coast Guard via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

Medevac Photo Bottom – Esquadra 751.

Three cruise visitors to Antigua, two from an unidentified MSC cruise ship and one from the P&O Brittania, were recently attacked and robbed in St. John’s in separate crimes according to the Antigua Observer.

The two crimes were violent.

The local police arrested two men, 20-year-old Joel Richards and 19-year-old Anderson Garcia, who are accused of aggravated robbery on February 1st of French visitors Jacques Colbert and Christiane Marcelle Drouth who were visiting from an unidentified MSC cruise ship.

The newspaper states that around 11 a.m. on February 1st, the couple were sightseeing nearby a tower when they were attacked and robbed by two men.  The attackers reportedly wrestled a handbag from the 62-year-old woman and stabbed her 70-year-old companion in the abdomen, before running off.

The newspaper indicates that the local police responded and, after waiting for an ambulance, they transported the injured man to the hospital, where he was admitted and treated.

A second crime occurred a few days earlier when a U.K. national was beaten and robbed. The victim is Michael Maycock, who arrived on P&O’s cruise ship Brittania on January 28th.

Mr. Maycock was reportedly sightseeing around midday at the St John’s Cathedral in the city when a man attacked him with a piece of wood. The man beat him with the object, pushed him to the ground and took away his wallet which contained US $100 and debit cards.

I named Antigua as the seventh most dangerous cruise destination in the world several years ago after several cruise passengers were robbed and a young woman visiting the island from Star Clippers was murdered. I wrote at the time:

“. . . like other beautiful but impoverished islands in the Caribbean, Antigua seems like paradise but it has seen more than its share of tragedies. The murder of a young woman during a cruise for her sister’s wedding led to the cruise company dropping the island as a port of call, but it quickly returned.”

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Photo credit: Antigua Global Ports Holding Plc.

Two men reportedly trying to board the Allure of the Seas at PortMiami on Sunday were arrested by federal agents for possession of a large quantity of drugs which they were intending to sell on the cruise ship.

Local 10 News reports that a Homeland Security special agent intercepted emails from the government-issued computer of Peter Melendez, age 35, (Facebook page here), who is a government contractor at the Pentagon, and Robert Koehler, age 27, (Facebook page here), discussing their strategy to distribute the smuggled drugs to other passengers on the ship.

The local news station reported that after both men arrived at the port, a drug sniffing canine alerted its handler to their luggage which contained MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, Viagra, Adderall and GHB.

The news station stated that the men were arrested on charges of illegal drug trafficking with Melendez charged with intent to traffic MDMA.

The Chesapeake Today newspaper reports that the men were planning to cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events for its annual gay cruise to the Caribbean.

Pentagon contractor busted when boarding cruise with his bag of drugs to sell; used government computer for planning peddling pills

In 2011, a passenger, Barry Krumholz, was arrested for selling large quantities of ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, ketamine and other drugs aboard the same Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, which was involved in this latest case and had again been chartered by Atlantis Events. There were reportedly a half-dozen drug overdoses during the cruise.

A week before that Royal Caribbean/Atlantis cruise, I wrote Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World’s Largest Gay Cruise?  I questioned why Royal Caribbean tolerated the widespread use of drugs during Atlantis Events cruise parties.

In the 2011 incident, Customs and Border Protection agents searched Krumholz’s cabin and  reportedly found more than 142 ecstasy pills, nearly 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and about $51,000 in cash.

Other Atlantis Events cruise parties have been marred by drug overdoses and deaths over the years.

Last year, Storm Chasers’ star Joel Taylor died of a suspected overdose on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, which had been chartered by Atlantis Events, according to TMZ and other websites. These tabloids reported that passengers on the Royal Caribbean ship stated that “drugs on the party boat were plentiful.”

In 2009, a passenger died after he reportedly took drugs during a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas cruise ship which had been chartered for the use of Atlantis Events.

In 2010, I wrote the article Another Death on a Royal Caribbean – Atlantis Cruise after a passenger died while aboard the Liberty of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events. There was widespread discussion regarding the use of drugs during Atlantis Events sponsored events.*

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Image Credit:Atlantis Events / Royal Caribbean Cruises

February 5, 2019 Update: NBC News covered the drug bust. Other major news media have been reluctant to identify the Allure of the Seas as the cruise ship where the men intended to sell the drugs.

*/A reader of this blog contacted me last week and pointed out that Atlantis Events changed it policies apparently based on last year’s death on the Harmony of the Seas. Its new vacation guide states that it will have medically-related personnel at its cruise party. At page 14 of its website under “Safety at Sea” it states:

“Our new Care Team is here to help! At all our parties and events you’ll find a team of dedicated medical professionals here to assist with absolutely anything. They will be wearing bright blue T-shirts with our Care Team logo and all have experience in working large festivals, sports events, and nightlife.

If you or anybody around you needs assistance or might need medical care, please simply ask them. They are here to help and will provide support in a nonjudgmental manner regardless of the situation. All matters are handled in the same ethical manner as in a land-based hospital.

Most importantly, please look after yourselves and each other. If you see somebody who over-indulged or is unwell, please let our team assist first.

Enjoy yourselves, but remember to take breaks to eat, sleep, and of course hydrate! Most people don’t realize how different being at sea is and how the combination of motion, sun, and late hours can sneak up on you. Take a night off once and a while and explore the myriad of options we have planned for you!

You are here on vacation, and we truly want you to go home feeling rested, not exhausted.”

The Minister of Tourism (MOT) for the Bahamas yesterday denied claims recently made in a travel agent’s YouTube video that Nassau is a dangerous port for cruise passengers, according to a newspaper article in the Bahamas titled MOT refutes claims made in YouTube video about Nassau port.

The YouTube video in question, styled “the 10 most dangerous ports and how cruise lines are solving the problem,” was posted about a week ago on a popular YourTube channel, operated by a Canadian with an interest in cruising, named “Travelling With Bruce.” The YouTube page discusses “cruise ship news and trends” and live streams at 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.

The video claims that Nassau is the most dangerous destination in the world for cruise ship passengers.

The Bahamian MOT released a statement  that it “maintains an active dialogue with cruise lines as both parties look to navigate a mutually beneficial relationship.” This follows a dispute which arose a month ago when Royal Caribbean was warning passengers on its cruise ships of the high rate of crime in Nassau.  The Crew Center website, in an article titled Royal Caribbean Issues Letter Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau, reported that Royal Caribbean passengers on the Allure of the Seas received a letter signed by the vessel’s master, stating in part:

“We feel it is important to make our guests aware that Nassau has been experiencing an increase in crime. Non-violent crimes, such as theft of personal items, are the most common types of crimes being committed. It is important to note that thousands of visitors routinely travel to Nassau without incident. However, visitors to Nassau, like visitors to all major foreign cities in the world today, need to be mindful of their personal safety.”

The popular Cruise Radio blog then covered the issue in Cruise Line Issues Warning About The Bahamas. This article got the attention of the Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar who claimed that he was “blindsided” by the Royal Caribbean warning regarding Nassau.

A newspaper in Nassau, the Tribune, then covered the tourism minister’s denials that Nassau has a problem with crime in which he stated: “I don’t know of any major or significant crime happening to a cruise passenger in quite some time. . . I don’t know about petty crime, but in my humble opinion Nassau is as safe as any other city.”

Other newspapers then carried the news that Royal Caribbean had issued a crime warning for Nassau, Bahamas which seemed to motivate the minster to voice his complaints to Royal Caribbean. The cruise line then rescinded its warning about crime in Nassau, even though it was a watered down version of the official U.S. warning issued by the state department, nearly a year earlier, which urged visitors to exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime:

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas . . .  Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. . . ”

Canada also warned tourists to exercise a high degree of caution in Nassau in its own advisory on December 20, 2018. Like the U.S. warning, Canada listed armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults as the most common crimes against travelers.

According to the Tribune in its article Royal Backdown Over Crime Alert, Royal Caribbean agreed to replace the cruise line warning “effective immediately” with a “generalised warning to Royal Caribbean passengers that does not mention Nassau by name and could be taken as referring to any of its ports of call.”

Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel reported that Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Tracy Quan verified that the cruise line agreed to issue only a generic warning about Nassau stating that it is no different than any other city.

But the dispute between the Bahamas and Royal Caribbean last past month escalated to accusations made by the Tribune newspaper in Nassau that it is more dangerous to cruise on ships operated by a Miami-based cruise line than it is to vacation in Nassau.

Last month, the Tribune focused on the statistics regarding crimes on cruise ships which are maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In an article titled Sexual Assaults The Most Reported Criminal Activity On Cruise Ships Making Calls To The United States, the Tribune newspaper concluded that “allegation of sexual assault remain the most reported criminal activity on board cruise ships making calls to the United States . . .  For the past three years, alleged incidents of sexual assault represented more than 60 percent of criminal activity reported by vessels under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). This trend follows for major cruise lines with routes to The Bahamas, like Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. In 2017, 76 percent of reported crimes on board Carnival vessels were for sexual assault; as was 68 percent of crime reported on board Royal Caribbean vessels.”

The irony of the latest controversy about the high crime rate in Nassau is that Travelling with Bruce’s 10 most dangerous cruise ports” is exactly the exact same top ten list which I published in 2014Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World. I selected Nassau, Bahamas as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world, followed by Roatan (Honduras), Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, St. Kitts-Nevis, Antiqua, Unites States Virgin Islands, El Salvador and St. Lucia. Travelling with Bruce’s next nine dangerous ports are also identical in order.

Five years ago, the Bahamian press extensively covered Nassau being named as the port dangerous cruise port in the world.

If I were to prepare another top-10-dangerous-cruise-ports list today, I would probably include Jamaica as well.

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Video: Travelling with Bruce