Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) extended its “No-Sail Order” until October 1st after finding that the cruise lines “continued to allow their crews to attend social gatherings, work out at gyms, and share buffet-style meals,” according to the New York Times. The CDC concluded that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Royal Caribbean  violated “basic protocols designed to stop the spread of the highly transmissible virus,” as explained in what the Times referred to as a “scathing” 20-page order which you can read here.

Cruise Fans Accuse the CDC of Picking on the Cruise Lines

On our Cruise Law News home page on Facebook, several hundred cruise fans wanting to return to cruising expressed anger at the agency for extending the “No-Sail” order.  Many crew members, who are understandably upset because they need to return to work, also expressed their frustration over the development. Most people felt that cruise lines were unfairly being singled out when the airlines pack passengers into crowded airplanes and people congregate in bars and restaurants without masks in some states.

More Contact Tracing Than All Airline Outbreaks Since the Pandemic Began

The CDC recent order states that the agency spent at least 38,000 hours managing the coronavirus crisis. Public health authorities performed contact tracing for 11,000 passengers, more than the number of contacts identified from COVID-19 outbreaks from airplane flights.

Cruise Lines’ COVID-19 Response Plans Incomplete and Inadequate 

The CDC found the cruise lines’ proposed plans to comply with the extension of the agency’s April 15th No-Sail Order (NSO) to be incomplete and inadequate. By July 10th only one cruise line (Bahamas Paradise), which operates just one cruise ship in U.S. waters, had submitted a response plan which complied with the CDC’s requirements in its extended NSO.

Substantial, Ongoing Failure to Comply with the CDC

The CDC provided numerous examples of the cruise industry’s substantial, ongoing non-compliance with the extended NSO.

The CDC found that numerous cruise ships were:

  • Not exercising social distancing or requiring the wearing of masks.
  • Not placing crew in single cabins with private bathrooms.
  • Not closing crew bars, gyms and public spaces.
  • Illegally making crew transfers from ships with sick crew.

The CDC sent a letter to all cruise lines requesting that they respond to the agency’s concerns. Only Royal Caribbean and Virgin Voyages bothered to respond.

The CDC then sent a letter raising specific dates on non-compliance on several ships operated under the Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s umbrella, namely the Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Joy, Oceania Marine and Seven Seas Voyager.

The NCL ships were clearly ignoring the CDC’s guidelines with large crew parties on the open decks where the crew mingled closely together without masks. Other crew members were forced to stay in cabins with other crew members and without private bathrooms. Our firm posted videos and photographs taken by crew members on the Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Epic in articles we posted in early May, titled “Ridiculously Overcrowded” Norwegian Escape Sails to Miami and Norwegian Epic – the Latest NCL Cruise Ship to Ignore the CDC’s Social Distancing Rule.

NCL initially ignored the CDC’s concerns and finally responded only after the CDC sent two additional letters demanding compliance.

Inadequate Testing – Crew Members Test Positive After a Month on Ships

Many cruise lines have not conducted random periodic testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic crew members as recommended by the CDC. The agency mentioned that on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, and Adventure of the Seas, the company failed to conduct such testing. As a result, these four ships reported no confirmed COVID-19 cases for twenty-eight days or longer. However, when the crew members’ home countries tested them when they were finally repatriated, 55 crew members tested positive for COVID0-19.  This problem exists through the cruise industry’s fleet of cruise ships; less than 40% of ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters had tested for COVID-19.

Exacerbation of Spread of An Already Highly Infectious Disease

CDC Director Robert Redfield blamed the cruise lines for “widespread transmission of the virus,” stating that from “March 1 until July 10, 80 percent of the ships in the C.D.C.’s jurisdiction were affected by the coronavirus.” The CDC confirmed that there were approximately 3,000 cases of infections and 34 deaths on ships in U.S. waters during this time period.

Director Redfield pointed to the numerous cases of confirmed/probable cases of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships after April 15th:

  • Disney Wonder, which earlier had a coronavirus outbreak which claimed the lives of several passengers, had over 270 COVID-19 and COVID-like illnesses among its crew members in April, May and June; the CDC criticized the Disney ship for inadequate spacing and mixing of stateroom for “sick” and “well” crew members.
  • Celebrity Eclipse – 100 confirmed/probable COVID-19 or COVID-like cases.
  • Coral Princess – 136 conformed/probable COVID-19 cases with 5 deaths.
  • Zandaam 33 confirmed/probable COVID-19 cases with 7 deaths.
  • Ruby Princess and Costa Luminosa – hundreds of COVID-19 (no officials count).

CDC: Cruise Ships Pose Higher Risk of Infection Than Cities

The CDC concluded that the current scientific evidence suggests that a cruise ship poses a greater risk of COVID-19 than other settings. “Cruise ship conditions,” according to the agency, “amplify an already highly transmittable disease.” The heightened rate of transmission is due to the high population density on a cruise ship, which is typically more densely populated than cities. Other factors likely contributing to transmission are crew living and working in close quarters in a partially enclosed environment where social distancing may be challenging, according to the CDC.

Director Redfield focused on an analysis on the Diamond Princess outbreak which was published in the Journal of Travel Medicine. This study showed that the basic reproduction rate, often called the transmission rate (Rt), on the ship was almost 15 (for each infection there was a transmission of COVID-19 to almost 15 others), which was over four times higher than the rate in Wuhan, China (the epicenter of the outbreak) which had a rate of 3.7.

The Cruise Industry is Continuing to Struggle With COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to devastate the cruise industry which finds itself without revenue and borrowing many billions of dollars to try and stay afloat. Incorporated in foreign (non-U.S.) countries, the cruise lines register its fleet of ship in feckless countries in order to avoid all U.S. taxes, U.S. wage and labor laws, and U.S. occupational health and safety regulations. The industry will have to respond to the CDC in a consistent manner – something that it has never been required to do before in its history on this scale. It will have to begrudgingly comply with the oversight of an U.S. agency which applies scientific principles to protect the health of the U.S. public.

Yes, the airlines should not be permitted to fly full such that there are passengers in every seat. Social distancing needs to be enforced across the airlines, hotels, restaurants and bars. But the CDC’S treatment of the cruise lines is not unreasonable just because people ashore are acting irresponsibly, particularly those selfish members of the public who refuse to wear masks.

One thing is certain. The cruise lines’ continued flouting of the CDC’s authority, as most vividly demonstrated by NCL on the Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Epic, will cause only additional delay in the industry returning to cruising.

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Airborne Transmission of Norovirus

In 2015, doctors participated in a study which determined that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form. They published their findings in an article titled Detection and Quantification of Airborne Norovirus During Outbreaks in Healthcare Facilities in the highly respected journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The medical experts concluded that rules need to be reviewed to take into account the possibility of airborne transmission of norovirus. They suggested the use of “mobile air-filtration units” or the “wearing of respiratory protection around patients with gastroenteritis” should be considered.

In May of 2015, a reporter for HealthDay News / U.S. News and World Report wrote an article titled Cruise Ship’ Norovirus Bug Can Spread by Air, Study Finds, saying that “notorious bugs that have infected scores of people and ruined countless cruise ship vacations — can spread through the air and infect people several feet away, according to new research.”  Thereafter, I wrote a series of articles asking whether cruise lines would be investigating the need to equip their ships with filters or require crew members responding to norovirus outbreaks to be equipped with respirators.

Cruise Lines Always Blame the Guests’ Hygiene

The cruise industry’s lobbying team at the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has been lecturing the public for decades that passengers who came on the ship while ill or didn’t wash their hands were usually the cause of the virus’ spread.  Of course, norovirus can be brought on board ships by an ill passenger as well as by crew members. Gastro-related illness can also be caused by contaminated food and/or water, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have long stated is the most likely cause of the virus. Norovirus outbreaks can also be caused by crew members working while infected and poor cleaning practices. Of course, it takes an investigation by a skilled team of epidemiologists to come to a final, scientific explanation.

I wondered how the industry would spin the scientific data proving that norovirus can spread in the air and, by deduction, then easily be transmitted throughout the ship by the cruise ship’s air-conditioning.

No Cruise Line Investigated Airborne Transmission of Viruses

No travel related publications or any major news organization for the last five years covered the issue of whether norovirus outbreaks could be explained, at least partially, by airborne transmission. From the date of the 2015 study to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, there have been no announcements by CLIA or any of the individual cruise lines regarding the transmission of airborne viruses on ships or any consideration given to using sophisticated air filters for the shipboard air conditioning systems.

Coronavirus – Transmission of Droplets Through Close Person-to-Person Contact and Airborne Transmission?

Turning from norovirus to coronavirus, at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess, I asked Princess Cruises whether the virus can also be spread through airborne particles. In response to my inquiry 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 (WHO) for the proposition that the virus is “mainly” transmitted via droplets from close person to person contact.

A New Study – COVID-19 Likely Spread on the Diamond  Princess Via the Air 

Yesterday SFGate published an article (not peer reviewed yet) titled Study: Ship’s AC system likely spread COVID-19 which contradicts Princess Cruises’ claim that the virus was spread on the Diamond Princess (photo top) via droplets from close person-to-person contact. A new, unpublished study of data collected during the COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess in February suggests that the virus likely spread through the ship’s air-conditioning systems. Of course, the crew members were most affected by the virus as they were in cabins with no windows or balconies without fresh air.

A prior unpublished study (also not peer reviewed) dated three months earlier reached a different result, namely that the ship’s central air conditioning system did not play a role in the the long-range airborne transmission of the virus. There have been peer reviewed published studies indicating that HVAC as a major source for indoor and environmental contamination that can explain the swift viral spread of COVID-19.  There has also been studies regarding small droplet aerosols in poorly ventilated spaces and COVID-19 transmission. The Washington Post published an article We Cannot Keep Ignoring the Possibility of Airborne Transmission which discussed public health expert Joseph Allen’s opinions:

“I’ve been warning about airborne transmission of covid-19 since early February. The explosive transmission on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, as well as other coronavirus outbreaks, constituted telltale signs that airborne transmission was happening. Close contact transmission was likely happening on that cruise ship, but the disease had spread far more quickly than non-airborne diseases typically spread.”

There has been mixed opinions about whether coronavirus can be transmitted in an airborne manner. Obviously, it is not a binary explanation (droplets versus airborne). Clearly, there have been an increasing realization that coronavirus “may” be transmitted through the air.  Last week, over two hundred experts from over 30 countries wrote an open letter to the WHO, which appeared in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggesting that coronavirus lingers in the air indoors and floating infectious particles may sicken others nearby. The New York Times addressed this issue in an article titled 239 Experts With One Big Claim: The Coronavirus Is Airborne. WHO responded to the increasing scientific research; last week the agency acknowledged that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may cause infections in indoor spaces. The WHO says aerosol Covid-19 transmission “cannot be ruled out.”

Some Experts Recommend HEPA Filters on the Ships 

Even before this newest report was published last week, some air quality experts concluded that cruise ship air conditioning systems are not designed to filter out particles as small as the coronavirus, allowing the disease to rapidly circulate to other cabins. Cruise ships typically do a poor job of filtering air, although there has been no clear consensus that air-conditioning systems can transmit coronavirus. Many experts nonetheless recommend the installation and use on cruise ships of medical-grade HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to catch and remove the majority of pathogens.

In the past twenty years whenever a norovirus outbreak ocurrs on a ship, the cruise line always blames the passengers, usually before there is even an opportunity to conduct an epidemiology assessment. Cruise lines do not send epidemiologists onto cruise ships following an outbreak. They do not test whether the outbreak was caused by contaminated food or water versus poor hygienne by a guest or crew member. In the over 125 disease outbreaks at sea on cruise ships in the last ten years, the cruise lines have never come to a single determination as to the cause of an outbreak. However, they usually intimate that such incidents could be avoided simply by the guests washing their hands.

Why Didn’t Cruise Ships Install HEPA Filters?

By historically blaming the passengers, and never accepting or even considering the possibility that its food may be contaminated or its crew members (particularly food handlers) may be ill, the cruise industry has never invested in investigating the true cause of disease outbreaks over the years on their cruise ships. There have been literally hundreds of disease outbreaks in the last two decades, involving not only norovirus but e-coli, measles, Legionnaires’s Disease and other exotic viruses.

Yet, none of the cruise lines have ever hired a staff of epidemiologists, scientists,  public health doctors and infectious disease experts to study disease outbreaks at sea. Why? Because it seems that the cruise companies felt it unnecessary or too expensive. Before the pandemic, cruise lines responded to disease outbreaks like they did any other unpleasant occurence at sea – by always denying responsibility or blaming their guests. The cruise lines’ response has been to involve their PR teams to spin the story rather than to hire scientists to understand and develop solutions to the problem.

So far, NCL seems to be the only large major cruise line which is considering the possibility of using more effective filters in its air conditioning systems. Last month, Travel Pulse reported that NCL is considering the replacement of existing air filters throughout it fleet of ships with HEPA filters. NCL’s Norwegian Peace of Mind Sail Safe New Enhanced Health & Safety Protocols state that NCL will install “medical-grade air-filters, H13 HEPA, that remove 99.95% of airborne pathogens across our entire fleet to ensure the air you breathe is clean.”  Whether this will really occur is less than certain.

Travel Weekly today reports that Windstar Cruises will retrofit its six small ships with hospital-grade air filters.  The cruise line working group which created what is commonly called the new EU protocols has a chapter ( “7.8 – Adequate ventilation”). It suggests that the “ventilation rate should be such as to provide as much outside air as possible.” It also proposes (but does not require) that air handling units be switched from recirculation to 100% outside air whenever possible or cruise ships should explore the possibility of “improving air filtration as much as possible and using HEPA filters or Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI).”

It remains to be seen whether other major cruise lines will follow suit. Carnival Corporation, for example, has over 90 large cruise ships which should be installed with HEPA filters. So far, Carnival has not announced any new protocols. Its CEO Arnold Donald stated at the recent earnings call that the company has “not actually gotten to the point of serious resumption of cruise discussions with the CDC . . . ”

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Update: A reader brought to my attention Virgin Voyages’ “Voyage Well” policies which tout “a breath of (literal) clean air.” Virgian claims that its ships have installed “the latest technology from AtmosAir Solutions — an air purification system that disinfects air on board. Leveraging bi-polar Ionization technology, this air purification system has been shown to kill 99.9% of viruses — making us the first in our industry to treat 100% of the air on board with this technology.” Plus it states that “our sea terrace ratio is one of the highest in the industry — allowing plenty of access to (salt-infused) fresh air.”

Photo credit: Diamond Princess – Alpsdake – file extracted from another file: Diamond Princess (ship, 2004) and Port of Toba.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; Diamond Princess bottom – © Carl Court/Getty Images via Live Science Coronavirus quarantine ends for some cruise ship passengers, sparking worries over virus spread.

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Reducing the occupancy of ships once the industry is permitted to return to sailing is an integral first step toward combating the spread of COVID-19. But fewer passengers means fewer cruises fares sold. And most significantly, reduced occupancy means reduced onboard revenue from alcohol sales, casinos, gift shops, specialty restaurants and shore excursions. I have always doubted that the current cruise excutives would ever voluntarily reduce the number of customers who buy cruises and drink, eat and gamble on their ships.

Financial Times reported yesterday that NCL CEO Frank Del Rio and Royal Caribbean’ CEO Richard Fain, who recently announced a joint “Healthy Sail” panel, warned of a “severe blow” to the industry if social-distancing measures that reduce the number of passengers on ships are required.

“One of the hallmarks of the cruise industry is that we always sail with full ships. It’s one of the basic tenets of our business model,” cruise executive Del Rio told the Financial Times. Lower capacities “would be a severe blow” to financial performance, he added. CEO Fain said that it is a “simplistic approach” to “assume that you simply take what happens on land and apply it on to the sea.”

CEO Del Rio is right, of course, at least about the industry always operating its increasingly huge ships at 100% occupancy in order to maximize profits. Royal Caribbean made a business decision over a decade ago to embark on building the largest cruise ships at sea which hold record numbers of passengers and crew. Ships like the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, among others, led Royal Caribbean to record profits year after year.

Humongous ships filled with paying customers and operating non-stop is indeed a cornerstone of the wealthy cruise industry’s business model, together with 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.

Huge cruise ships packed with passengers seems to be one of the factors which led to the CDC issuing its “no sail” order due to the pandemic. In its first no sail order in March, 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.

In the past several months, there has been scuttlebutt that cruise lines will operate their ships at as little as 40% occupancy depending on the type of ship. And some cruise executives, like Richard Fain, previously discussed having fewer passengers on board their ships to allow for social distancing. “My guess is that when we start, we will limit the number of people who can go onto a ship just as my neighborhood restaurants are beginning to open up,” he told CNBC six weeks ago. But CEO Fain has changed hs mind before, like when he recently called the wearing of mask a “silly idea” after his company said face masks would be used throughout his fleet if the Royal Caribbean “faceview” were accepted as a patent.

It remains uncertain what precautions the RCCL/NCL “Healthy Sail” panel will submit to the CDC at the end of next month. But one thing is certain, the cruise executives will try to convince the CDC to let them sail their ships full of guests.  The EU protocls, which members of the “Healthy Sail” panel were partially responsible for creating, has no mention of reducing the number of passengers anywhere in its 49 pages.

As we mentioned in our article yesterday,  Dr. Scott Gottlieb who NCL and Royal Caribbean hired to co-chair the “Healthy Sail” panel, stated last March that “it’s an awful risk to pack a lot of people on a cruise ship.” But now, after he finds himself on the cruise lines’ payroll, he changed his tune to agree with NCL’s CEO Del Rio that a cruise ship can be among the “safest place on earth.”

Del Rio collected over $85,000,000 in the last five years. NCL collected nearly $1,000,000,000 in profits, with Royal Caribbean profiting with $1,800,000,000 and Carnival with $3,200,000,000. In March, Del Rio stated that any restrictions on cruise operation should “immediately stop.” CEO Fain has collected an average of $12,000,000 a year in compensation each year for the last 6 years for a total of approximately $72,000,000. He collected $14,358,919 in compensation in 2019, $12,422,715 in 2018, $13,343,413 in 2017, $10,405,684 in 2016, and $12,013,878 in 2015.

There is no way these cruise lines will collect billions of dollars in income or the CEO’s will receive tens of millions of dollars in compensation each year with their ships half or a quarter filled.  That’s why when the so-called “Healthy Panel” comes out with its protocols next month, there will be no mention of reduced occupancy. The CEO’s will try and pack their ships with as many paying passengers as their ships will hold.

It’s is hard to take the cruise lines’ claim seriously that the “health and safey of guests is their highest priority.” It seems more accurate to say that the cruise tycoons’ wealth rather than their customers’ health remains their primary conern.

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Photo credits: Richard Fain – Richard Fain Interviews Governor Mike Leavitt About RCL & NCLH’s Joint “Healthy Sail Panel” via Cruise Critic; Frank Del Rio – Opening Bell, January 11, 2018 from CNBC.

Today the U.K. government issued advice against cruise ship travel.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) originally issued guidance last March advising those U.K. nationals who are over-70 years of age and those with underlying medical health conditions, such as chronic diseases and diabetes, against taking cruises. A FCO spokeperson state in March:

“Our first priority is the safety of British nationals. The nature and design of cruise ships – where passengers are contained and the virus can spread faster – makes them a particularly risky environment for vulnerable people. We’ve already seen the impact a coronavirus outbreak can have on board a cruise ship and we have changed this advice with the safety of British nationals in mind.”

The U.K. government updated its advice today, saying that “the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England. The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”

You can read the FCO’s advice here.

Cruises from the U.K. have been halted since March. Travel Weekly reported that Hurtiguten recently announced plans to operate cruises from U.K. ports starting in September.

The announcement surprised and angered many travel agents and cruise fans.

Jane Archer, a U.K. travel journalist and super cruise fan, went so far as to claim that the cruise industry has “moved heaven and earth to make sure its ships are safe.” The fact of the matter is that few cruise lines have even announced their new COVID-19 precautions at this point. More startling, there are still crew members on cruise ships at sea and on ships in ports in the U.K.  who the cruise lines have not even repatriated home at this late date, nearly four months after cruising was suspended. Some crew members are still testing positive for COIVD-19 on ships. Others are tested positive when they finally repatriated home.   

The Guardian reported last month that the U.K.’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained four ships operated by the U.K.’s Cruise and Maritime Voyages (photo right) moored in the U.K. after inspectors found expired and invalid seafarers employment agreements, late wage payments and crew members who had been on board for over 12 months, in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention. The crew members had to organize a hunger strike to bring attention to their mistreatment.

The U.K. cruise ban comes shortly after the EU just announced “interim advice for restarting cruise ship operations after lifting restrictive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic” dated June 30th.  These new guidelines are arguably a good first start but they clearly do not adequately protect the public’s health and safety in many respects. The EU advice fails to even require social distancing as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A number of readers reacting to this news are predicting the end of cruising for the foreeable future, perhaps until 2022 or until there is a vaccine. Here are some comments from the Travel Weekly article:

  • Maybe just maybe the FCO have been listening to my views – cruising is out until 2022 at the earliest. Health before wealth. On a liner of say 3-5000 passengers it just takes one person to be diagnosed and the ship is closed by EVERY port. This government is doing a marvellous job – well done.
  • The Virus is not now under control. The U.K. will experience a similar spike to the U.S. (where the lockdown was lifted prematurely). Even places such as Hong Kong and Australia, known for robustly controlling the virus, are seeing spikes. Parts of Melbourne are back under lockdown.
  • The complexity and variability of the restrictions is a disaster for the sector. Combined with the lack of financial support the travel industry as we know it is history.
  • This will be in place until a vaccine is found. No question.
  • Well I think we can all forget cruising in 2020. It would just be impossible in the present environment. It makes no difference on the size of the ship. Countries at the moment dont want cruise ships. Simple. Travel is coming back, cruising is the not for the near future.

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Photo credits: Cruise and Maritime Voyages

Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that they hired a panel of former public health officials to advise the cruise lines regarding how to safely return to cruise operations. Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio announced that they created the “Healthy Sail Panel” to assure the plans which they intend to submit to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will apply the best available public health and scientific measures. The panel’s co-chair Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, questioned in a recent interview with Travel Weekly whether “taking a cruise potentially be a safer way to vacation in a COVID environment than going to London? I think it might.”

No Safer Vacation?

Several major newspapers picked up on Dr. Gottlieb’s far-fetched claim, including Fox News which published Health Expert Claims Cruise Ship Could Be Safer Travel Than Some Major Cities to Avoid Coronavirus.

The trouble with Dr. Gottlieb’s hyperbolic claim is that it is completely inconsistent with other statements which the former FDA chief made before he was paid to join the joint cruise line team of experts.  In March, the U.S. State Department cautioned U.S. travelers against taking cruises as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded – a warning which, at the time, Dr. Gottlieb said “he fully agrees with,” according to an article in USA TODAY.

Dr. Gottlieb Warns Against Cruising – It’s An Awful Risk

The CDC eventually ordered a suspension of cruises from the U.S. on March 13th after a number of cruise ships experienced outbreaks of COVID-19. The Miami Herald reported that there were over 3,600 infections on cruise ships and around 95 passengers and crew member died due to coronavirus. The New York Times reported an even higher number of cases on more than 100 cruise ships. Incredibly, the Times reported that the virus was aboard almost 90% of the 121 cruise ships which entered U.S. waters after March 1st. The CDC’s No Sail order specifically refers to the fact that “cruise ship travel markedly increases the risk and impact of the COVID-19 disease outbreak.”

“I don’t think anybody should be taking a cruise right now … this is a very sticky pathogen,” the doctor explained last March 9th, and once it gets inside a closed space such as a cruise ship, it spreads widely. He gave the Diamond Princess cruise ship as an example of the wide spread of COVID-19, where more than 700 people were infected and over a dozen people subsequently died. “It’s an awful risk to pack a lot of people on a cruise ship,” Dr. Gottlieb said.

There is no scientific basis for Dr. Gottlieb or any expert to claim that cruising is now safer than it was four months ago. The only difference appears to be that the good doctor is now on the payroll of the cruise lines, a point not lost on many people on Twitter:

The Surge of COVID-19 Cases Will Continue Through This Fall and Winter Long after Cruising is Scheduled to Resume

CBS News interviewed Dr. Gottlieb three days ago on Sunday, July 5, 2020, on “Face the Nation,” one day before Royal Caribbean and NCL that he was co-chair of the “Healthy Sail Panel” which CEO Fain calls the “brain trust.”  Dr. Gottlieb stated in the interview (transcript available here) that there is now a substantial spike in new COVID-19 cases. He noted that the current infection rate of 60,000 cases per day is almost twice of what they were in April, when daily cases were arounnd 35,000. Dr. Gottlieb opined that “This week, maybe we’ll reach 75,000 or get close to it.”  He predicted a “hard fall” and stated there the surge of new COVID-19 cases will continue through the fall and winter (well past the new cruise start up date CLIA announced of September 15th for Royal Caribbean and NCL).

Dr. Gottlieb said last Sunday that “the difference now is that … now we really have four major epicenters of spread: Los Angeles, cities in Texas, cities in Florida, and Arizona. And Florida looks to be in the worst shape.” Ironically, three of these states, Florida, California and Texas, have major cruise ports.

NCL’s CEO: A Cruise Ship is the “Safest Place on Earth” – What About Masks? 

Earlier this summer, NCL CEO Frank Del Rio claimed in a friendly interview with a travel publication that Cruise Ships Can Be Safer Than Anywhere Else. Del Rio went on to argue that “people are rushing to bars and restaurants as they reopen, they want to get back to their normal lives, and cruising is a part of their normal lives.” This week, Del Rio claimed that a cruise ship can be among the “safest places on earth.” Del Rio seems to believe that disregarding the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing and the wearing of masks is a good thing rather than a major problem that needs to be discouraged.

This summer several NCL ships openly flaunted the CDC’s social distancing and mask protocols when the Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Epic were at the port of Miami with thousands of crew members aboard. In early May, I wrote two articles about the NCL’s reckless disregard of the CDC’s social distancing and mask policies:  Ridiculously Overcrowded” Norwegian Escape Sails to Miami and Norwegian Epic – the Latest NCL Cruise Ship to Ignore the CDC’s Social Distancing Rule. Many hundreds of crew members were videotaped crowding around bars with no social distancing or wearing of masks.

It should therefore come to no-one’s surprise that when NCL announced its preliminary COVID-19 protocols last week, which NCL calls its “Peace of Mind Safe Sail” measures, there was no mention of the wearing of face protection.

A “Dumb Idea” – Royal Caribbean View Of Masks

Royal Caribbean Richard Fain also doesn’t seem to support the CDC’s face covering protocols. He intimated during an interview last month with Cruise Critic that the a mask was essentially a “dumb idea,” likely for no reason other than polling indicates that few people will to return to crusing if they have to wear a mask.  Ironically, Royal Caribbean filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office this Spring for a new brand of sanitary facial masks, dubbed “Seaface.” The patent states that the mask was designed for “virus isolation purposes.”  Several months ago, a company spokesperson said that if the patent is approved, the company will implement the safety devices on all of its ships across each brand. But recently CEO Richard Fain said that the cruise line is no longer pursuing the mask concept. Fain told Cruise Critic “For innovation to work, you need to look at a lot of ideas, including a lot of dumb ideas … We look at a lot of ideas, and sometimes even the dumbest of them inspire really good related ideas. That was one idea (the Seaface) that was thrown out of which we’re not pursuing.”

What Other Opinions Will the Brain Trust Change?

It will be interesting to see if Dr. Gottlieb abandons his opinion (expressed just last month) and current CDC directives that the wearing of a mask and social distancing are crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19.  The typical over-stated and non-scientific opinions of cruise executives can be explained, perhaps, as part of their job to their shareholders to promote confidence in their business.  How does Dr. Gottlieb justify the abandonment of his scientific principles?

It’s disappointing to see a doctor who the cruise lines promote as a top epidemiologist and former public health official make such a preposterous claim. Going from correctly labeling a cruise ship as creating an “awful risk” to parroting a cruise executive description as the “safest place on earth” raises  doubts as to the expert’s credibility and the genuiness of the cruise industry’s claim that their customers’ health and safety, rather than money, is its highest piority.

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A Filipino crew member, employed by Disney Cruise Line as a painter aboard the Disney Wonder, died on Tuesday according to the Miami Herald.

Eddie Burgos Ragodon visited the cruise ship’s medical center in recent days with chills, according to another crew member who communicated with the newspaper. It appears that he did not undergo a test for COVID-19 recently.  The article states that Disney will now test Mr. Ragodon for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via an email to the newspaper.

Mr. Ragodon’s Facebook page shows him on the Disney Wonder in San Diego throughout the months of March and April (including photographed in isolation in his cabin), sailing through the Panama Canal in early June, and arriving at several ports in the Caribbean in Barbados and Jamaica in later June where the ship finally repatriated crew members to their homes in the islands.

On June 13th, Mr. Ragodon posted on Facebook: “Goodbye fellow filipino crew…transffered to Disney Dream to wait for thier charttered flight going home on june??Me…i will stay on board until ???”

Goodbye fellow filipino crew…transffered to Disney Dream to wait for thier charttered flight going home on june??Me…i will stay on board until ????⚓⚓⚓

Posted by Eddie Burgos Ragodon on Saturday, June 13, 2020

Disney Wonder – One of the Largest COVID-19 Outbreaks on a Cruise Ship

The Miami Herald reported that “at least 255 people on board the Disney Wonder have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 1, the CDC said, making it among the largest known cruise ship outbreaks.” The Herald is the first newspaper to report on the widespread COVID-19 outbreak on the Disney Wonder which we reported on in articles dated and April 5, April  6, May 19, 2020.

On Friday, a San Diego County resident who was a passenger aboard the Disney Wonder reportedly has tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to a local hospital . . .

Posted by Cruise Law News on Saturday, March 28, 2020

There is no question that a large number of former guests on the Disney cruise ship developed COVID-19 symptoms after they disembarked in San Diego from the March 6 to March 19 cruise from New Orleans to San Diego. Disney also knew that a guest who had cruised on a prior cruise to Mexico from February 27th to March 2nd had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from that cruise.

Our firm is aware of at least three passengers on the Disney Wonder who later died due to COVID-19.

Regarding Mr. Ragodon, it is less than clear whether he had been tested for coronavirus in back in April or March. In early May, Disney tested all  the crew members on the Disney Wonder at that time. 203 crewmembers out of 737 tested positive for COVID-19 according to the CDC.

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Photo credit: Eddie Burgos Ragodon Facebook page.

Consider reading:

Around 200 Crew Members on Disney Wonder Reportedly Test Positive for COVID-19

Thirty-Eight Crew Members on Disney Wonder Reportedly Test Positive for COVID-19

Former Guests on the Disney Wonder Test Positive For COVID-19 – Did Disney Know that a Guest on a Prior Cruise Tested Positive?

This weekend, several employees of Pullmantur Cruises informed me that employees (or contractors) hired by Royal Caribbean (which has a 49% ownership in Pullmantur) were involved in removing equipment from and dismantling the interiors of two of the companies’ cruise ships.

The Monarch and Sovereign are currently at the cruise port of Naples, Italy (Stazione Marittima – Terminal di Napol) where a large amount of equipment is reportedly being removed. The interiors of both Pullmantur ships are essentially being dismantled in a huge undertaking where there are around 1,500 pallets being assembled to ship the items from each of the ships. Several individuals who do not wish to be identified state that “everything of value” is being removed from the ships, including artwork and navigational and electrical equipment.

For example, workers are dismantling the theater including the LED wall (photo right), on the Monarch, which projected show backgrounds as well as stage lighting and other production equipment.

Pullmantur is reportedly keeping the project “extremely secretive.” The crew is being kept in the dark regarding the plans for the future of the company.

Pullmantur’s third ship in its fleet, the Horizon, is currently off of the coast of Mumbai where it disembarked Indian crew members from both Pullmantur and Azamara.

What's going on with the Pullmantur fleet? The former Royal Caribbean Monarch & Sovereign (of the Seas) in Naples, Italy.

Posted by Cruise Law News on Sunday, June 21, 2020

There are rumors that all of the Pullmantur ships will be going to scrap. There is nothing substantiated at this point. All three ships, Sovereign (built in 1988), Horizon (1990), and Monarch (1991) and are relatively old and inefficient. The Monarch and the Sovereign (of the Seas) used to be in the Royal Caribbean fleet; the Horizon used to be operated by Celebrity Cruises. At the same time, several other people have informed me that two of Pullmantur’s ships are for sale – the Monarch for $125,000,000 and the Horizon for $65,000,000 – although it is clear that they have been on the market long before the pandemic began.

Last week the Cruise Industry News and the popular Travelling with Bruce page on YouTube reported that Pullmantur canceled all cruises through November 15th and was planning to put its three ships into “cold storage.”  An absolute minimum of ship employees would then be involved primarily just for fire-watch and security for the ships. It appears clear that Pullmantur is facing substantial financial troubles, as explained in the YouTube site,  due to the cease of operations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (The Horizon reportedly had around 150 crew members who had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus).

The employees who contacted me suggest that a company intending  to transport and entertain passengers in the future would unlikely dismantle its ships like this.

Pullmantur is an offshoot of the Madrid-based travel agency Pullmantur. In 2006, Royal Caribbean purchased Pullmantur but later sold a 51% stake in the cruise line to a Spain-based investment firm. Given the current pandemic (and the fact that some news reports indicate that Spain has indefinitely suspended cruising from its ports), it is highly unlikely that Pullmantur could make a profit in the foreseeable future. Whether Pullmantur scraps its fleet or simply puts its ships in “cold storage” remains to be seen.

Customers have contacted our office indicating that Pullmantur is refusing to issue refunds for canceled cruises due to the pandemic. It reportedly is offering only future cruise credits, which will be come worthless if the company ceases operations.

June 22, 2020 Update: This morning, MarketWatch reported that “Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL, -6.87% said its Spanish cruise line Pullmantur Cruceros joint venture with Cruises Investment Holding has filed for reorganization under terms of Spanish insolvency laws, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Royal Caribbean’s stock fell 1.7% in premarket trading. Royal owned 49% of the JV, and Cruises Investment owned 51%. Pullmantur had canceled all sailings through November as a result of the pandemic. ‘Despite the great progress the Company made to achieve a turnaround in 2019 and its huge engagement and best efforts of its dedicated employees, the headwinds caused by the pandemic are too strong for Pullmantur to overcome without a reorganization,’ Pullmantur’s board of directors said in a statement.”

It also appears that Royal Caribbean may offer Pullmantur customers vouchers for the canceled cruises.

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Photo credit: Top – Monarch – By Roel van Deursen – Spijkenisse / Nissewaard  CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia; Monarch and Sovereign in port of Naples – via Facebook page of Captain Ivo Joni Botica (who was not interviewed for this article).

A crew member on the Island Princess died on Wednesday  according to several crew members wishing to remain anonymous.  The crew member’s name is Candido Catambay. There are no facts publicly available regarding the precise circumstances of the crew member’s death.

It appears that the Island Princess is one of many Carnival Corporation-owned cruise ships which are in the process of finally repatriating crew members home.  This particular crew member appears to have been on the cruise ship for a minimun of at least the past 90 days.

One crew member who informed me of the death stated: “Princess says it’s ‘natural causes,’ but what is natural when you have been kept on board the ship away from home for such a long time and your physical and mental health is damaged day after day.”

The Island Princess is currently anchored off the coast of the Philippines near Manila. There are currently twenty-five  cruise ships, including eleven Carnival Corporation-owned ships which are operated by Princess Cruises, positioned near Manila with many thousands of crew members aboard. In addition to the Island Princess, there are ten other cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises near Manila at this time: the Pacific Princess, Regal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess, Majestic Princess, Sun Princess, Diamond Princess, Golden Princess, Crown Princess, and Ruby Princess. 

The Island Princess last sailed from south Florida on April 20th and eventually reached the Philippines earlier this month. Carnival avoided the CDC’s guidelines which would have required the company to fly its crew members via charter flights home by sailing them on a dozens ships to the Philippines. Carnival saved money but subjected the crew to additional stress by keeping them on the ships away from their families.

Princess Cruises declined to respond to our request for an explanation regarding this latest crew member death.

Including this incident, there have been at least six to as many as ten other cases were it appears that crew members may have decided to end their own lives since April 30th, as well as one attempted suicide:

CMV galley cook on Vasco da Gama June 17, 2020. CMV claims that he died due to a heart attack.

Royal Caribbean waiter on Harmony of the Seas June 9, 2020.

Crystal Cruises waiter June 2, 2020.

Virgin Voyages hotel utility on Scarlet Lady May 22, 2020.

Cruise and Maritine Voyages provision manager attempted suicide on Vasco da Gama May 20, 2020 .

AIDA galley employee on AIDAblu May 18, 2020.

Royal Caribbean assistant waiter on Mariner of the Seas May 10, 2020. Royal Caribbean stated that the crew member, a young man, reportedly died of “natural causes.”

Princess Cruises waiter on Regal Princess May 10, 2020.

Carnival Cruise assistant shore manager on Carnival Breeze May 9, 2020.

Royal Caribbean electrician on Jewel of the Seas April 30, 2020.

Four days ago, the Miami Herald reported that at least 42,000 crew members remain trapped on cruise ships without paychecks, and some still are suffering from COVID-19, three months after the industry shut down.

The reasons for the failure to repatriate the crew are a combination of the following developments: (1) the cruise lines delayed repatriation efforts after the CDC initially issued its “no sail” order on May 13th for only 30 days. The companies hoped to resume sailing as soon as possible and didn’t repatriate their crew members, intending to put them back to work. Then the companies claimed surprise when the CDC extended the no sail order until July 25th; (2) the CDC required cruise lines to repatriate crew only though private charters which most companies refused to do claiming its was “too expensive,” and the cruise CEO’s, chief compliance officers and chief medical officers refused to sign acknowledgments indicating that the companies intended to comply with the CDC guidelines; and (3) countries began closing borders to limit the spread of COVID-19.

These deaths should be a shameful embarrassment for the cruise lines which continues to withold literally billions of dollars in refunds to its customers. Yesterday, Jim Cramer of CNBC announced that Carnival Corporation had a record $4.4 billion loss in the second quarter of this year with $7.6 billion in available liquidity, including $2.9 billion in refunds owed to customers.

Carnival Corporation, like all cruise companies, has struggled to remain afloat following the coronavirus pandemic. It is using its customer’s refunds to try and remain viable. All of its brands, like Princess Cruises, have tried to minimize expenses incurred in promptly repatriating their crew members. Unfortunately, there will be additional crew deaths as a result of the cruise lines devoting their depleting liquidity to re-start their operations.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has initiated the “Enough is enough” campaign, in recognition of “thousands of seafarers worldwide remain stuck on board, unable to go ashore, seek medical attention or return home.”As of June 16th, it is no longer acceptable that seafarers are forced to continue to work on ships, according to the ITF.

The General Secretary of the IMO, Kitack Lim, has stated that the shipping industry is on the verge of “a humanitarian crisis,” with an increase in “fatigue and issues with mental health.”

The ITF states: “We are clear – if a seafarer wants off a ship, then the ITF, our affiliate unions and the ITF inspectorate will do everything we can to assist them. We know that you need to get off these ships, and we will help you to do so where can.” Crew member can contact the ITF here.

The IIF has been criticized over the years for not responding to seafarers’ complaints. Nonetheless, we recommend that crew members contact the ITF as well as bring attention to their predicaments via social media and by contacting the media.

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A Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) crew member on the Vasco da Gama cruise ship in the U.K. died early this morning, according to several crew members who wish to remain anonyous.

The crew member was identified as Krishna Kumar Balaji who was employed by CMV as a “1st cook galley.” He reportedly died in the ship’s infirmary around 3:00 a.m. today.  CMV recently transferred Mr. Balaji to the Vasco da Gama because the MV Astoria, which is one of several cruise ships CMV operates, is scheduled to sail to Portugal to go into dry dock. (The Astoria and Vasco da Gama are both in Tilbury along with other ships operated by CMV).  The exact facts and circumstances of his death are less than clear at this point.  Comments posted on social media suggest that the crew member was depressed.

Indian crew members aboard the Astoria cruise ship began a hunger strike two days ago to protest being kept on the ship for more than 90 days since cruise operations were suspended. CMV arranged for transportation of some crew members but not for around 160 crew members back to India. CMV is claiming that the country of India has not granted landing permits for flights for the crew members back home. The crew members have requested that the Indian government and the Indian High Commission in London become involved. The issue, of course, is not just such governmental restrictions, which are affecting all cruise lines, but why the company has not obtained the necessary documentation to repatriate its crew members over the past 90 days.

Several images and videos of the hunger strike were posted on Twitter and Facebook this week. At least one photo of a crew member holding a sign states “Frustrated. What’s Next?!! Suicide?”

One of the most important reasons articulated for the crew’s frustration is that they are very worried about the fact that they have not been paid, many of whom have received no wages over the last five months. They have expressed concern for the inability to pay for their children’s education and medical expenses and loan obligations. The crew members have consistently stated that they appreciate what CMV is doing for them during the pandemic. One crew member stated: “we are CMV family who still support and love our company, at the same time we love our family back home.”

It's a call out to everyone Indian government UK Government as well the company authority & Agents everyone you'll better b quick coz we will get on one one clarifications.

Posted by Gina Pereira on Monday, June 15, 2020

CMV has responded to the issue of non-payment of wages by stating that it will remit wages with the sign-off of the crew but it has not committed to a firm sign-off date.  CEO Christian Verhounig referred to the company’s “massive cash requirements,” in an email sent to the striking crew members, which are involved in sending its crew members home while not collecting any money while cruising is suspended. The CEO further claimed that:

“… we are being hurt most, our costs for feeding all, offloading garbage, buying water for showers and toilets, offloading grey and black water, keeping the generators on for electricity and continuing to have you on employment and pay you salary would be much reduced and less of a burden for us.”

This email appears oblivious to the hardship caused by crew’s inability to send their wages back home to their families. Calling the crew a burden and comparing the payment of their wages to paying the costs of unloading garbage and sewage seems  particularly unsympathetic and callous.

The crew members’ fears and concerns come at a time when CMV is experiencing significant financial problems. Sky News reports that CMV is in emergency talks with lenders and potential investors following the eleventh-hour collapse of a potential financial rescue deal.  This newspaper in the U.K. reports that a private equity firm had been trying to structure a deal for several weeks with CMV’s existing creditors but talks were abandoned this week. A travel publication, Travel Weekly, quotes CEO Verhounig saying: “As the majority of other cruise lines have already done or are presently doing, CMV is also looking for additional financing to improve its liquidity position until sailing will resume again.”

This has been a very difficult six week period for many crew members who have remained on cruise ships during the period of cruising suspension which is now over 90 days. In addition to this incident, since May 1st there have been nine other crew members who reportedly ended their lives and one employee from this same cruise ship, Vasca da Gama, who attempted to do so.

A week ago, a Royal Caribbean waiter ended her life on the Harmony of the Seas. A newspaper in Barbados reported that she comitted suicide by hanging. A week earlier, a long term employee from the Philippines died suddenly on a Crystal Cruises ship. Three weeks ago, a Filipino crew member died on the Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady. Shortly before that, a CMV crew member on the Vasco da Gamma cruise ship reportedly jumped from deck 12 of the ship and landed on a cargo container located on the pier of the Tilbury Docks in the U.K (photo left). It was last reported that the Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) ship employee is in the hospital in London. A Filipino galley employee on the AIDAblu also died. A Chinese crew member hired as an assistant waiter on the Mariner of the Seas  was found dead by his colleagues. Royal Caribbean stated that the crew member, a young man, reportedly died of “natural causes,” although it did not release an official cause of his death or provide any explanation. On that same day, a Ukranian waiter from the Regal Princess jumped overboard while the ship was in Rotterdam. The day before, an assistant shore excursion manager died on the Carnival Breeze which was sailing to the U.K. from Bahamian waters. A post mortem report by a pathologist states the preliminary cause of death as hanging, according to a publication in the U.K.  The first suicide involved a Polish electrician on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas jumped from the ship south of Athens around the first of last month.

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June 18, 2020 Update: 

CMV apparently claims that the crew member died due to a “heart attack” via the post below. There still is no public statement regarding CMV’s non-payment of crew wages dating back 5-8 months or the issue of finally repatriating the crew members at issue.

Photograph credits: Anonymous

 

A Royal Caribbean ship employee died earlier today on the Harmony of the Seas, according to several crew members who wish to remain anonymous.

Crew member Mariah Jocson, who was described as a “new hire,” was reportedly found in her cabin this afternoon. There was an “Alpha, Alpha, Alpha” medical emergency broadcast on the ship’s PA system.  Later, the captain publicly announced that the crew member had died. Her family reportedly have been notified. There was no official announcement or explanation regarding her cause of death.

She was from Mandaluyong, Philippines.

The Harmony of the Seas is currently in Barbados with around 2,000 crew members still aboard waiting to be returned home, including many crew members who transferred from the Vision of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas. She reportedly previously was on the Rhapsody.

The Royal Caribbean “Crew Repatriation Weekly Update” dated June 5, 2020 lists over twenty flights from Barbados to the Philippines in the next three weeks through June 30th.

This has been a difficult six weeks for many crew members who have remained on cruise ships during the period of cruising suspension which is now approaching 90 days. In addition to this incident, there have been eight other crew members who reportedly ended their lives and one employee who attempted to do so since May 1st.

A week ago, a long term employee from the Philippines died suddenly on a Crystal Cruises ship. Two weeks ago, a Filipino crew member died on the Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady. Shortly before that, a crew member on the Vasco da Gamma cruise ship reportedly jumped from deck 12 of the ship and landed on a cargo container located on the pier of the Tilbury Docks in the U.K. It was last reported that the Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) ship employee is in the hospital in London. A Filipino galley employee on the AIDAblu also died. A Chinese crew member hired as an assistant waiter on the Mariner of the Seas  was found dead by his colleagues. Royal Caribbean stated that the crew member, a young man, reportedly died of “natural causes,” although it did not release an official cause of his death or provide any explanation. On that same day, a Ukranian waiter from the Regal Princess jumped overboard while the ship was in Rotterdam. The day before, an assistant shore excursion manager died on the Carnival Breeze which was sailing to the U.K. from Bahamian waters. A post mortem report by a pathologist states the preliminary cause of death as hanging, according to a publication in the U.K.  The first suicide involved a Polish electrician on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas jumped from the ship south of Athens around the first of last month.

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June 10, 2020 Update: A newspaper in Barbados reports that the “Barbados police confirm they are treating the death as a suicide and identify the victim as a 28-year-old assistant waitress.”

June 11, 2020: Crew Center reported that there was a prayer tribute by crew members of the Harmony of the Seas Tuesday evening for Ms. Jocson (photo right) who was hired as a waiter.

Photo credit: Top – Harmony of the Seas – By kees torn – UNION BEAR, CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia; middleHarmony of the Seas in Barbados – middle – Nation News by Shanice King; bottom – Mariah Jocson – Facebook via Crew Center.