Mechanical problems are affecting the speed of the Carnival Victory cruise ship which departed yesterday from the port of Miami.

The Carnival cruise ship was supposed to sail from Miami to Key West arriving this morning around 7:30 a.m., and then sailing on to Cozumel, Mexico before returning to Miami in October 26, 2018.

However, yesterday Carnival stated that an unspecified “issue” is affecting the ship’s “maximum cruising speed.” A letter to the ship’s guests signed by the Master of the cruise ship stated that although technicians were doing the “necessary work,” the ship would operate on a modified itinerary. The ship would sail to Nassau in the Bahamas where it would arrive at 10:00 a.m. today and it would then spend the day tomorrow at its private destination in Princess Cays in the Bahamas. The Carnival Victory would then spend a day at sea on Thursday and would return to Miami Friday morning.

AIS shows the ship in Nassau this morning after sailing at an average speed of around 11-12 knots.

Carnival was offering a $50 onboard credit or a refund for anyone who wished to cancel the cruise.

The propulsion issue facing the Carnival victory comes at a time when Carnival announced that the ship is part of a $2 billion enhancement program where the cruise line is rebranding a number of its shipsThe Carnival Victory will be dry docked before returning to the fleet as Carnival Radiance in 2020. The ship will undergo major refurbishments including specialty dining facilities, aqua parks, and enhanced accommodations and amenities.

USA TODAY writes that the overhaul of the Victory will “take place over 38 days at a dry dock in Cadiz, Spain and cost $200 million – one of the priciest cruise ship makeovers on record.” The makeover will include the “addition of more than 100 cabins, the revamping of existing cabins and the addition of nearly a dozen food and drink outlets.”

We were first notified that the cruise ship arrived in port in Miami with the assistance of tugs yesterday.

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

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

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Photo credit – Carnival Victory (in Nassau): Justinpolanco – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.


A passenger reportedly died following a fall aboard the Grand Classica cruise ship operated by the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line according to several sources.

WPTV in West Palm Beach reports that the Grand Classica contacted the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday evening when an unidentified passenger fell and was injured on the cruise ship after it left the Port of Palm Beach heading toward Freeport.

The Coast Guard medevaced the passenger from the cruise ship to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where hospital staff pronounced him dead.

The news stations report that another passenger on the ship stated that the the man fell to his death, but the cruise line has not confirmed that account.

A passenger on the cruise commented on Facebook, “I heard code blue I ran to the staircase where everyone was huddled … I saw a pool
of blood … they were wiping the blood like nothing.”

After the medevac, the cruise ship then resumed sailing to Grand Bahama Island.

U.S. News & World Report reports that a Coast Guard spokesman, John Lally, stated that the passenger fell while on the Grand Classica.

Spokesman Lally stated that a Coast Guard crew met met the ship about 13 miles east of the Port of Palm Beach and brought the man back to shore.

October 13, 2018 Update: The Palm Beach Post and People Magazine identified the man as Christopher McGrory, age 29, who was celebrating his bachelor party with friends on the cruise ship at the time of the incident.

Screen Grab: WPTV

According to ABC News in Australia, a cruise passenger was arrested after he tried to throw his partner overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.

According to the Mercury newspaper, witnesses heard screaming followed by an emergency alarm.

The Daily Mail identified the cruise passenger as David James Fysh.  According to the Epoch Times,  a fellow passenger commented on the Tasmania Police Facebook page that the woman was covered with bruises.

The incident, which the police in the next port of call in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia called a “family violence incident,” reportedly occurred last night around 3:30 a.m. The police boarded the cruise ship this morning in Hobart, arrested a 46 year-old man from Queensland and charged him with attempted murder.

The man appeared in the court in Hobart this afternoon and was remanded into police custody.

Domestic disturbances of this type occur more frequently than the cruise lines would like to admit.

Just last week, a cruise passenger assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas on an unidentified cruise ship. Two weeks ago, a woman slashed / stabbed her boyfriend with a steak knife aboard the Carnival Fantasy. Last month, another Carnival cruise passenger was indicted for throwing his girlfriend from the couple’s balcony on the 14th deck down down to the 11th deck on the Carnival Elation which sailed from Jacksonville to Freeport in the Bahamas.

The most recent publicized incident involved a husband who murdered his wife aboard the Emerald Princess during a cruise to Alaska last year.

We have written about cruise ship murders (typically of women) during cruises in the past.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Bahnfrend – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

A crew member reportedly went overboard from the Celebrity Reflection last night, according to a passenger on the cruise ship.

The Celebrity cruise ship was sailing from Mykonos, Greece to Rhodes, Greece.

The passenger posted comments about the incident on her Twitter page and also on Instagram:

The majority of crew members who go overboard often do so intentionally. The incidents usually occur late at night or early in the morning.  The persons going overboard are typically not observed by other crew members or by passengers. We are not aware of any Celebrity cruise ships which are equipped with automatic man overboard systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes over the rails and tracks the person in the water, even at night, via infrared, heat sensor / motion detection / radar technology.

The usual scenario involves a crew member who is overworked during a long (6-7 month) contract and becomes demoralized and decides to end his life. Another crew member may notice that the crew member has not reported to work. The ship will eventually conduct a search of the ship and will look through the ship’s CCTV.  Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Celebrity / Royal Caribbean do not actively monitor the CCTV cameras on their  cruise ships. I have written about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean cruise ships without explanation.

During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

Any investigations conducted after the fact by the cruise company or the flag state are usually done to exonerate the cruise line.

The masters on these cruise ship must notify the cruise line’s security and marine operations departments in Miami by telephone regarding any “suspected overboard situation.” Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the company’s procedures prohibit the master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water. The ship turns around only after the master first notifies the cruise line’s marine operations department in Miami.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s website, at least 322 crew members and passengers have gone overboard since 2000.

If you have any information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Update: A Greek news source identifies the crew member as a 36 year-old from the Ukraine. The news source says that the man went overboard around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night but the search efforts did not begin until “early on Wednesday” (at around 5:00 a.m).

Read: Misery Machine and Crew Member Suicides

October 20, 2018 Update: The popular Crew-Center website identified the crew member as  Alex Heleta, a well liked young man who was “working as a bar server for several contracts on different Celebrity ships, and had just embarked on Reflection. Some sources say that Hellenic Coast Guard found Alex body near the Island of Santorini, and they will send it back home for his family and friends to commemorate.”

Image credit: AIS image of Celebrity Reflection – MarineTraffic

This past week, I received information from a reader of Cruise Law News who lives in Bergen Norway. He explained that the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) is using drones equipped with measuring instruments to test sulphur levels in ship emissions.

There is an article in the Maritime Authority’s latest publication, Navigare, regarding this issue. Translated, the article states “. . . a drone with measuring instruments was operated from the bridge of the Coast Guard vessel KV Tor. In the course of a week or so at the beginning of June, the drone was manoeuvred into exhaust discharge from several ships in the area and details of sulphur content immediately appeared on a data screen on board the Coast Guard vessel. The highest concentration was measured on the Portuguese flagged cruise ship Astoria as it was entering the harbour of Bergen.”

The NMA states that it is using the drone technology to hunt “sulphur sinners.”

The drones are owned by the Norwegian Coast Guard whereas the detectors are owned by the NMA.

An article in Bunkerspot which was published today states that the Norwegian Maritime Authority has carried out 205 inspections to check sulphur content in emissions from ships. Five violations were uncovered the ships received penalties of between $30,500 and $73,000.

As the IMO .5% sulphur limitation comes into effect in 2020, there will be an increasing number of cruise ships which violate the international restrictions on the amount of sulphur in fuel as well as the emission standards in states such as Alaska.

Today, I received a photograph (at top of this article) taken by a crew member which shows the exhaust plumes from the Norwegian Jewel and the Radiance of the Seas (as well as the Explorer of the Seas, obscured) in Skagway, Alaska. These cruise ships utilize scrubbers, rather than switching to cleaner but more expensive low-sulphur fuel. As you can see, the steam ends and the blue shaded exhaust emissions, which contain solid particulate matter, is evident. Alaska uses a subjective opaqueness test which is subject to a wide variety of non-objective interpretations. Cruise ship supporters often falsely claim that the cruise ship emissions are just steam from the ship’s stacks as opposed to harmful non-combustible particulate matter. Drones with sulphur detection systems will go a long way to objectively collect data in order to hold cruise ships accountable for violating air pollution laws and regulations.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York  alleged yesterday that a cruise passenger, identified in court papers as Carlos Batista Jr. of Elmhurst, New York, assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office published a copy of a grand jury indictment that the cruise passenger strangled and suffocated his girlfriend on September 8th on an unidentified cruise ship which sailed from New York early last month.

Mr. Batista reportedly “grabbed, dragged, pushed and pulled” his girlfriend through the hallway of the cruise ship after an argument.  Mr. Batista allegedly covered the mouth and restricted the breathing of his girlfriend until she lost consciousness. The court records identifies her only as “victim – 1.”

The U.S. government alleges that Mr. Batista dragged the woman into their  cabin and continued to choke her until others on the ship, responding to the woman’s screams, entered the cabin, according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

The crime is alleged to have occurred after Mr. Batista’s girlfriend told him that she wanted to end their relationship of a year, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

The FBI routinely does not mention the names of the cruise line or cruise ship where crimes occur, even though federal law requires cruise lines to disclose crimes such as assault and sexual assault via a portal maintained by the Department of Transportation. The DOJ identified the cruise ship only as “vessel – 1” in the complaint which it filed.

There have been a number of recent “domestic disturbances” during cruises in the last couple of months.  Earlier this month, a cruise passenger on the Carnival Fantasy was indicted earlier this month after she reportedly pulled a steak knife and cut her boyfriend during an altercation.  In August, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

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A cruise ship captain is on trial in France on charges of violating pollution laws designed to address health concerns over air pollution caused by ferries and huge cruise ships.  According to the Telegraph newspaper, France has charged U.S. captain Evans Hoyt, age  58, for breaking Europe’s air emission laws by authorizing the burning of bunker fuel containing sulphur above the European limit of 1.5%.

Mr. Hoyt was employed as the master of P&O Cruises’ Azura cruise ship, when he oversaw the loading of 900 tons of cheap heavy-sulphur fuel onto the cruise ship when it was in Barcelona, Spain. The next port in Marseilles, France  charged him and cruise giant, Carnival Corporation, and its P&O Cruises brand, of using the low-cost high-sulphur fuel. The “heavy” fuel  produces non-combustible soot particles and oxides that contribute to acid rain and the pollution of the oceans.

The heavy fuel used by one cruise ship causes as much air pollution as one million cars in the same period of time, environmentalists say. High-sulphur fuel is responsible for 60,000 deaths a year and 50 billions euros in health care in Europe alone, according to the France Nature Environnement (FNE) group.

Carnival faces a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 euros (depending on differing news accounts). Relatively speaking, the fine is a pittance considering Carnival’s immense financial resources. However, given the fact that Carnival saved around $200,000 for a week long cruise by purchasing the cheaper fuel and that it owns over 100 cruise ships which each operate virtually 52 weeks a year, the verdict may have significant financial implications for the cruise company.

But Carnival is fighting the fine. It argues that the EU’s 1.5 percent sulfur limit applies only to “passenger ships providing regular services to destinations or from ports of the European Union.” Carnival says that the Azura is a cruise liner, not a ferry with “regular services to (European) destinations,” and is therefore exempt from the 1.5% sulphur limit in the EU law, an argument that it has lost before.  Carnival argues that its ships have to comply only with a higher (3.5%) limit which applies to cargo ships.

The fight against Carnival Corporation has been personalized with charges brought directly against Master Hoyt, who is a popular cruise ship captain who used to work for Norwegian Cruise Line for ten years before he began his employment with P&O Cruises/Carnival. I watched him testify before the House of Representatives on the issue of cruise ship safety following the Costa Concordia disaster. At the hearing, he stressed the important of enforcing cruise industry standards and procedures.

A maritime expert whose opinions I value described him as a “man of integrity and morals.”

Suing a cruise ship captain is an unprecedented step by a port state to deal with the air pollution problem caused by increasingly massive cruise ships.  As readers pointed out on our Facebook page, ship fuel is tested by the environmental officer (or chief engineer) before it is allowed to be pumped into the cruise ship, so it appears that the ship’s master knew that the heavy fuel violated Europe’s sulphur limit. A French newspaper concluded that the captain, who has not appeared in court, “knew perfectly well that the fuel he had filled up with in Barcelona was illegal.” At the same time, a maritime expert commented to me “if the cruise lines doesn’t bunker the ship with emissions compliant fuel, what options does that leave the Master and Chief Engineer?” The ISM Code would also seem to implicate Carnival as the responsible party by it’s failure to adequately supply the ship with “critical components” (i.e., compliant fuel).

Air pollution caused by cruise ships is a particular concern for crowded Mediterranean ports.

Long ago, a German environmental association, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), found that passengers could be inhaling “60 times higher concentrations of harmful air pollutants” while on cruise ships, than on land, according to a major U.S. news network.

Recently, Santorini has shown to have very high level of air pollution caused by the cruise and shipping industries, which can legally use heavy fuel oil without exhaust gas cleaning systems in the Mediterranean, as a Telegraph newspaper article explained.

The construction of a huge new cruise ship terminal planned for the river Thames in the U.K. met opposition due to concerns of  dangerous levels of air pollution in the heart of the capital with the attendant potential health consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.

And in the U.S., major cruise line like Princess, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have all been found to be in violation of Alaska’s air emission laws, as well as Alaska’s water discharge standards.

Princess Cruises, of course, is just a year and one-half into its five year probation for its wide spread practice of pollution. I was skeptical that a fine of only $40,000,000 would have any effect on its parent company, giant Carnival Corporation. Carnival-owned cruise ships continue to violate local, state and international pollution laws since the DOJ issued the fine a year and one-half ago. It is no coincidence that a Carnival-owned cruise ship like the Azura is at the center of this latest controversy.

Perhaps there is a symbolic issue at play with a French court hosting the prosecution of an American captain accused of violating European pollution laws. After all, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord a year ago.

In any event, the enforcement of the EU’s sulphur limit could not occur at a more critical time given the United Nations’ recent report which concludes that people must take “rapid, unprecedented changes” in how they use energy to travel and live in order to halt global warning. The Le Monde newspaper comments that there is widespread skepticism that port states will consistently take any meaningful actions to enforce pollution regulations against renegade cruise lines. Perhaps a threat of jail time against a popular U.S. captain of a cruise ship owned by the largest and most popular cruise corporation in the world will teach others that its finally time to treat the air around them with a modicum of respect.

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Photo credit: M/S Azurs – Pjotr Mahhonin – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; middle – Evan Hoyt – C-SPAN; bottom – Norwegian Pearl in Juneau / Photo credit Tim Olson / KTOO Public Radio.

A United States District Court in Mobile, Alabama charged a Carnival cruise passenger with assault pursuant to a federal statute, 28 U.S.C. 113.

Jenetrice Williams of Birmingham, Alabama was taking a cruise on the Carnival Fantasy on August 19, 2018 when she allegedly “pulled a knife during an altercation with her boyfriend, Michael Carter.”

According to the probable cause affidavit, signed by an investigating police officer,  Ms. Williams “did produce a knife during an argument with her boyfriend. The defendant had a steak knife in her purse that she claims she brought from home and knowingly brought it on the cruise ship Carnival Fantasy.” She allegedly “purposely slashed / stabbed at the victim causing cuts to the victim’s left hand and right leg. The defendant was restrained by ship security.”

Comments posted on our Facebook page raised predictable questions:

  • How was it possible to sneak a knife past Carnival’s “highly trained security staff”?!?
  • And I can’t bring my water with me anymore, WTF?

Ms. William’s boyfriend left a comment on Facebook with a photo of him and his girlfriend only a few days before being knifed, stating “Coolin on the ship. No matter what enjoy life.”

Carnival Cruise Lines has experienced a number of deadly “domestic disturbances” in the past.  Last month, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

The federal court records indicate that Ms Williams has been ordered to appear at a hearing which is scheduled for  October 10, 2018.

Photo Credit: Violation notice and probable cause affidavit – U.S. District Court, Southern District Alabama, Mobile, Alabama.

This week, I noticed that #metoo and #whyididntreportit were trending on Twitter, as a result of the controversy surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate hearing.

Professor Ford and other women are coming forward to the Senate hearing today to allege that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them and/or condoned sexual misconduct at parties while they were in high school or college.  The victims deserve to have their experiences considered and not denied simply because they occurred decades ago when they were teenagers.

I noticed that several #metoo and #whyididntreportit tweets involved women (and at least one man) who stated that they were sexually abused on cruise ships, either as a passenger or as a crew member. All these individuals were publicly disclosing the incidents for the first time in their lives. All the incidents occurred many years ago, with some of the sexual assaults occurring as long as three to four decades ago.

“Jane Doe” – Crew Member Aboard the SS Universe – “Afraid I Would Be Thrown Overboard at Night”

One woman, now 50 years old, who wishes to be identified only by her first name, Jazmin, tweeted that a cruise ship officer sexually assaulted her in 1989:

She revealed to me that she worked as a cosmetologist on the SS Universe (photo above, taken in August 1989), which was operated at the time by World Explorer Cruises to ports in Alaska.

“I was out late with my friends and returned to my cabin around midnight. There was a note under my door to go to the bridge because I had an emergency phone call.  This was quite alarming because back then, no one received phone calls at sea unless it was serious. I raced up to the bridge and was greeted by a man who I recognized as someone close to the captain. I don’t know what his exact position was but he wore a uniform and was some type of officer. He was probably around 10 years older than me, maybe 33.  Frantic, I handed him the note, and started asking lots of questions. He was quiet and led me back into a cabin and closed the door. Naively I still wasn’t aware of what was going on. I continued to press for answers and was now in tears, fearing that a family member as in trouble. At that point he put his arms on my shoulders and started to force himself onto me.  I resisted him. He chased me around the room and kept trying to pin me down.  I threw objects in his direction and he stumbled, and I escaped the cabin.

After the incident occurred, I ran to my friend’s cabin, told him what happened and asked what I should do.  Many times, we had witnessed the crew throwing garbage and large machinery (washing machines etc.) overboard into the ocean in the middle of the night.  He warned me that they could easily do that to me.  I felt like I needed to tell someone, my boss or at least the cruise director but after talking with my friend, I was scared into silence.  I feared for my life and always watched my back on the ship.”

Jazmin explained that she initially felt guilty about what happened.  “I remember thinking what did I do to provoke this?  Did I stare at his uniform emblems too long when he was on stage? Was my outfit not conservative enough?

She chose to disclose the assault now because she feels empowered by her family and wants to set an example for he daughter. “I think it is important to talk about it now … I have two children. Now that my daughter is a teenager, I think it’s important that she be aware and not be fearful. I encourage her to share everything with me.”

Ruth Anne Phillips – 10 Year Old Guest – HAL’s Rotterdam – “I Speak Up Now For My Ten Year Old Self”

Another woman broke her 45-year silence when she recently tweeted:

Ms. Phillips explained her ordeal to me in detail:

“I was ten years old in 1974 . . . it was very important to my parents that we experience the world and other cultures and after scrimping and saving, they took us on a year-long trip and cultural adventure to Europe. It was a very exciting time for me and my four brothers. We ranged in age 4 through 15. (photo of family below).

The first part of our trip we took a train to New York from Los Angeles. My parents were able to get a really good price for a transatlantic cruise on the Rotterdam (operated by Holland American Line from 1959 to 1997). To be able to do this was a once in a lifetime experience and my parents were so excited and their enthusiasm was contagious.

The Rotterdam was huge but there were not a lot of activities for children other than the pool. My brothers and I took off and basically had the run of the ship. I remember that most of the crew were not Americans and my parents told us that they were from a ‘faraway island’ . . .  they were drawn to me and two of my brothers who also had blond hair. They would touch us on the head all of the time – so much so, it was disconcerting. My parents told us that they were not used to seeing people with blond hair and that to touch it was considered good luck. I do not know if that was true or not, but we accepted it as fact.

Toward the middle of the cruise I was exploring by myself. I did that a lot. My brothers didn’t like hanging out with their sister – so that was not unusual. Parents back then were very lenient, and we always ran free – even at home, when we were told to be back when the streetlights came on. On the ship, we were told to be back for dinner. One day, I got lost and I was wandering the halls looking for our cabin or someplace I would recognize, and I was getting distressed when I was approached by one of the crew.

Looking back, I would say he was probably in his thirties. He asked me if he could help me and I told him I was lost. He said that he knew where my cabin was, and he would take me there. Instead he took me into a small office and molested me. He groped me and put my hand on his penis. He kissed me and put his tongue in my mouth. I became a limp doll. I did not fight our scream or do anything. I was sitting on his lap while he did this to me. After he removed himself from my body, he said, ‘thank you.’

It was grotesque that he thanked me after what he had done; like I had somehow given him permission. I got off his lap and went to the door, opened it and ran out. He did not try to stop me.

Remarkably, I found our cabin and I remember hiding under the covers on the bed and I shook uncontrollably. I was dry heaving. One of my brothers found me and told me it was dinner time. I told him I wasn’t going. My mother came in and asked me what was wrong, and I tried to tell her, but it was impossible. I did not have the words to say what had happened, but I told her that I had been kissed by one of the crew members. She left and when she came back, she said that she had spoken to my father and they thought it had to do with my blond hair and the culture of the crew member. They said I was confused and that a kiss wasn’t a big deal.  They made me get dressed to go to dinner.

We were served duck with grape sauce on it. Funny what you remember and what you don’t. When we got back to the room, I vomited all night. To this day, I have a visceral reaction if someone is serving or eating duck.

My parents and I never spoke of what happened ever again. I never pursued it and it seemed that if I did, I would have ruined everyone’s trip. I would have been responsible for destroying our grand adventure. I like to think that my parents were simply naïve but, sometimes, I think that they didn’t want the adventure ruined either and that they wanted what happened to just go away.”

The childhood assault on the cruise ship seems to have had a long term effect on Ms. Phillips, who described being sexually assaulted as a 7th grader during her junior high school in California, being drugged and raped in college, and being a victim of sexual harassment and assault when she began working as a firefighter at age 48.

She is now 54 years-old and is married with five children. She explained that she struggled with unresolved anger and self-loathing most of her life. “I was weak and vulnerable. I know most people do not think of me that way. But I do. I think that what happened to me at ten affected me for the rest of my life. Inside, I think that my parents didn’t fight for me and I didn’t know how to fight for myself. I lived my life thinking that I was worthless.”

“I have struggled with hurt, anger and rage, and I attempted suicide in the past. That is why I speak up now. I have been part of a whole culture of complicity. My parents were scared, and I was scared too. I was scared my whole life. I am not scared anymore. When we speak up, we are attacked and vilified. We are called liars. My soul was stolen from me and the silence simply made it worse. I speak up now for my ten-year-old self, my twelve-year-old self, my nineteen-year-old self and my fifty year old self. “

My Perspective on Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships

We have represented over 100 women and/or children sexually assaulted on cruise ships over the last 15 years. Approximately one-third of these crimes involved children, which is consistent with Congressional testimony from experts.  Of course, children rarely immediately report being a victim of sexual abuse while on the ship. Many children suppress violent, sexual memories for a lifetime. If they are going to disclose the sexual abuse, children usually first disclose the sexual abuse only once they return home and/or after their parents or caretakers observe the child demonstrating a change in behavior after the cruise.

Many women also report the sexual assault only after the cruise.  The crime typically occurs on the last night of the cruise and many victims simply want to get off the ship and as far as possible away from the location of the scene of the assault. A shipboard safety officer investigating a report by a guest that she was raped by a crew member represents an inherent conflict of interest.

One of our clients was drugged and raped on the last evening of the cruise and returned home in a state of anxiety and confusion. She first contacted us several weeks later after she became frustrated when there was no response to her complaints to the local police or the cruise line, and after the FBI investigation went nowhere, like most FBI investigations do. The cruise line bartender, who drugged and raped her, and was fired, subsequently applied for work on another line (Princess Cruises) and was accepted for employment.

As part of her self-empowerment, she was interviewed by Time magazine and she later testified before Congress regarding her ordeal.

In our experience, the majority of women who contact our office are not seeking to file a lawsuit for compensation but are frustrated by the “denial, shame and blame” culture that permeates our law enforcement and criminal law system.  (None of the victims mentioned in this article-initiated contact with this firm nor have they even asked if there is a basis for compensation).

Of the 100 or so sexual assault cases involving passengers we have handled, only in four instances (all involving minors) have the crew members served jail time.  The vast majority of crimes are not prosecuted, and many are not even investigated by law enforcement. No cases involving a crew member victim have resulted in jail time for the crew member assailant.

We have attended Congressional hearings where the FBI has acknowledged that less than 7% of sexual assaults result in prosecution and convictions. The low percentages of cases which are reported and/or result in convictions mirror statistics regarding land-based crimes. Plus, there are problems unique to cruise ships, such as jurisdictional issues, the loss or destruction of evidence at sea, delayed investigations by law enforcement, and the absence of police on the increasingly huge “cities at sea.”

The #metoo movement may be resulting in a trend toward more frequent reporting of sexual assault.  The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) cruise crime portal shows that reports of sexual assaults on cruise ships have increased in the last year by over 20%.  Sexual crimes on cruise ship have historically been substantially under-reported and vastly under-counted even when they are reported according to Congressional reports.

Its a good thing that women are now increasingly empowered to reveal what happened to them in the past.

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Photo credit: Bottom – Family photo (family blurred) aboard the Rotterdam – Ruth Anne Phillips; Middle – SS Rotterdam – John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain, commons / wikimedia; Universe – and Jazmin aboard Universe cruise ship – top and middle – Jasmin.

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a 78-year-old passenger from the Norwegian Escape yesterday afternoon on September 22, 2018 after the man reportedly suffered a stroke on the cruise ship.

The NCL’s cruise ship was approximately 40 nautical miles south of Nantucket at the time of the medevac as the cruise ship was returning to New York from a weel long cruise to New England and Canada.

The Norwegian Escape had sailed from New York a week ago, on September 16th, and had sailed to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine and then to the Canadian ports of Saint John and Halifax.

The NCL ship reportedly notified the Coast Guard around 5 p.m. yesterday and the Coast Guard dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at around 7:30 P.M. which flew to the ship and hoisted the man and a nurse from the ship.

The passenger was flown to a hospital in Rhode Island where reportedly in stable condition.

Coast Guard medevacs like this funded for by U.S. taxpayers and are not paid for by either the passenger or the cruise line.

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Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard District One via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).