The Virgin Island Consortium reported today that a crew member was arraigned in Federal District Court for the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a passenger on a cruise ship.

The newspaper announced the charges against a Filipino crew member by the name of Louie Isom Mangampat. According to the indictment, Mangampat sexually assaulted a woman while on board a cruise ship bound for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In federal court, there is no criminal offense of “rape” but only charges of sexual abuse or aggravated sexual abuse according to the federal statutes.

According to the United States Department of Justice (as mentioned by Newsweek), “aggravated sexual abuse” refers to offences where someone (1) uses “force against another person” and thereby causes that person “to engage in a sexual act,” or (2) causes another person to engage in a sexual act “by means of threats express or implied,” or places that person in fear that any person will be “subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Virgin Islands Police Department.

The newspaper did not identify the name of the crew member’s employer, the name of the cruise ship involved, or any details of the alleged criminal offense.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is one of those islands in the Caribbean where the officials and newspapers do not reveal the names of cruise lines in fear of alienating their tourism partners.

The U.S. Deartment of Transportation database indicates that there were 26 sexual assaults committed against passengers and crew members in the last quarter (April throught June 2019) – including 11 on Carnival, 9 on Royal Caribbean, 4 on MSC, 1 on Disney and 1 on HAL cruise ships.

Tomorrow, we will check the docket and arrest / probable cause affidavits in federal court in the Virgin Islands to determine the name of the cruise ship / cruise line and alleged details of the sexual crime.

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November 8, 2019 Update:

The crew member is accused of assaulted a female crew member aboard the Celebrity Equinox, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.

The court files reveals the details of the assault: Celebrity Crew Member’s “Brazen Rape of Colleague.”

Photo credit: Mitya Trotsky – top; Justin Link – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia – bottom.

The El Universo newspaper reports that the Celebrity Xpedition cruise ship ran aground and became stranded on a sandbar yesterday evening.

The newspaper states that the cruise ship ran aground Tuesday at Punta Vicente Roca, located north of Isabela Island in the Galapagos.

The Celebrity ship sent an alert yesterday evening. The Armed Forces of Equador and the Galapagos National Park responded to the grounding.

Three boats reportedly went to the ship and transferred the passengers and some crew members to the Celebrity Flora.

There was reportedly no damage to the ship’s hull. The ship was  was refloated and will be towed to the Italbaca Canal, located between the Baltra and Santa Cruz Islands.

Forty-six passengers and “non-essential” crew members were evacuated according to parent company Royal Caribbean, as reported by the Miami Herald.

Forbes touted the Celebrity Xpedition as “the most luxurious way to explore the Galapagos Islands.”

Six months ago,  the passenger ship Galapagos Majestic ran aground in the Galapagos (on May 31st) with 26 people on board, according to marine professonal and journalist Mikhail Voytenko (via Fleetmon). The excursion ship sank the following day after the passengers were evacuated.

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Photo Credit: Top – Raphodon CC 3.0 creative commons/wikipedia; middle – El Universo; bottom – ecuavisa via Mikhail Voytenko via Fleetmon.

Today, the popular Crew Center published two articles regarding recent attempts by Filipino seafarers to end their lives.

First, Crew Center mentioned a 24-year-old Filipino crew member, employed by MSC Cruises as a buffet steward, who reportedly posted several comments on social media regarding the long work hours and the little rest during his first contract on the MSC Meraviglia.

  • “Is that so? 12 hrs duty daily, 4-6 hrs sleep. Let’s just smile. 9 Months of hell here we go.
  • Tired from work. The mind is tired. Tired brain. Tired body. Tired everything. It seems like I’m giving up.”

The unidentified ship employee also was reportedly experiencing problems with his shipboard girlfriend. A Maitre’d and a Buffet Manager responded to the emergency by going to the crew member’s cabin and reportedly requested emergency medical treatment. The crew member was treated at a hospital in Boston.

Crew Center reported that guests on the MSC ship posted photographs on Facebook of emergency medical vehicles arriving at the ship when it was at port in Boston. They stated “we were guests on board, we saw his unfortunate disembark. Unfortunately, these cases are becoming more frequent. We consider that permanent psychological assistance for the crew on board of the cruise ships is necessary. They work very hard!”

Posted by Pino Mihaela Maccarrone on Sunday, November 3, 2019

Crew Center also reports on an attempted suicide by a second Fiipino Seafarer who worked in the galley on the Oceania Riviera. The incident was first made public on the Filipino Seafarer Facebook page called “Buhay Sa Cruise Ship.”

Crew Center reports that the incident occured while the cruise ship was in  Saguenay, Quebec on November 2nd. The Canadian Coast Guard performed a medical evacuation and rushed the crew member to the hospital.

PINOY ATTEMPTS SUICIDE AGAIN THIS TIME AT OCEANIA RIVIERAGood day sir Rinell Banda.. check nyu din sa amin oceania…

Posted by Buhay sa Cruise Ship on Sunday, November 3, 2019

Crew members from around the world, including the Philippines which supplies the largest number of seafarers in the world to the cruise lines, have little support from the cruise industry and none from the U.S. government. There is an obvious need for the wealthy cruise lines to hire shipboard psychologists for the hard working crew and to support the employees during their long contracts at sea.

We suggest reading: Misery Machines and Crew Member Suicides.

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Photo credit: Estormiz – CC0 commons/ wikimedia.

The Norwegian Star experienced a problem with one of its azipods over the weekend, apparently resulting in a fire of some type, resulting in a cancelled port on its last cruise. NCL then continued the next cruise without any mention to the new guests that there had been a fire or whether the ship had been inspected by appropriate authorities. NCL also altered the current cruise involving this ship, according to passengers who contacted us and those who posted information on social media.

One cruise passenger who contacted us who prefers to remain anonymous stated:

“NCL Star experienced loud, shuddering, rattling noise at approximately 1am on Nov. 2nd. The ship seemed to stop and we heard 3 short alarm blasts and “Bravo.” We found out from crew an engine was lost and a fire had ensued. We were told we would miss Dubrovnik (the headliner port) and heading back to Venice. We were only offered a $100 NON-REFUNDABLE credit to use or lose over less than 18 hours. Customer Service would not budge on the non-refundable issue.” A copy of the letter given to passengers is below:

NCL has mentioned only that its ship sustained unspecified “mechanical issues” in a letter to passengers on the last cruise and returned to Venice with reduced speed.

There has been no official word from NCL regarding reports of a fire during the last cruise. There is also no information regarding who, if anyone, inspected the ship following the alleged fire.

NCL altered the current cruise on the Norwegian Star with the cruise line dropping Mykonos and Santorini to the surprise of its customers.

This is not the first time that the eighteeen-year old Norwegian Star has either limped around with reduced power or sustained a complete power loss. Read NCL’s Norwegian Star Suffers Engine Failure Again which we published in January of 2017.

The popular Travelling with Bruce YouTube channel also published a post yesterday regarding this issue, which also mentions reports by passengers of a fire:

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Photo credit: Kefalonia2015 – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons/wikimedia.

This past week, the Carnival Freedom cruise ship was photographed belching thick black smoke while arriving in George Town, Grand Cayman.

The photograph was taken by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous.

It was taken on Tuesday, October 29th. The twelve-year old Carnival ship left Galveston, Texas on the evening of October 27th and arrived in George Town on Tuesday morning.

The photographer explained that the Carnival Freedom had just arrived in George Town and was on the way to the anchorage area to be tendered when it started smoking heavily from the exhaust stacks.

Other Recent Carnival Air Emissions

This was not the first time that a Carnival ship was filmed belching thick smoke near port.

This past summer, the webcam in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas showed the Carnival Victory belching thick black smoke from its funnel for around an hour. PTZtv, which operates the webcam, tweeted the video with the caption “no smoke without . . . ? – – hard to imagine anything good happening here.”

The video initially shows a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (Navigator of the Seas) in the foreground, but the pollution is actually coming from the funnel of a Carnival cruise ship (Carnival Victory) which was docked  behind the Royal Caribbean ship.

The responses on social media to the spectacle involving the Carnival Victory were predictable. Some suggested that this was somehow normal emissions coming from the engines which were blowing soot loose, or perhaps the boilers needed minor maintenance or adjustment.

Carnival Corporation has been caught violating air emission laws in the past several years while on probation for environmental crimes. The Miami Herald reported that the Carnival  P&O Azura burned heavy fuel oil for 16 hours while traveling through Iceland’s Environmental Protection Zone. The heavy fuel oil that many cruise ships use is high in sulphur. Sulphur emissions from ship exhausts are linked to thousands of premature deaths from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary problems and childhood asthma cases annually.

A Brief History of Carnival Corporation’s Air and Water Pollution

In the last three years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) levied record fines totalling $60,000,000 against Carnival Corporation. Carnival-owned Princess Cruises pleaded guilty in December of 2016 to widespread pollution crimes involving the use of secret bypass valves on five Princess cruise ships to discharge oil directly into the water around the world, as well as conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The DOJ fined Carnival $40,000,000.

More recently, the DOJ levied an additional $20,000,000 fine against Carnival Corporation after the U.S. government caught the cruise giant of “repeatedly” discharging food which was mixed with plastic waste, metals and other non-food items in violation of its probation.

In 2002, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies after being caught discharging oily waste into the sea. Carnival reportedly routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.

In 1998, the DOJ fined Carnival Corporation-owned brand, Holland America Line, $2,000,000 after catching  it discharging oily water without the use of an oil-water separator.

In 1993, the U.S. charged Princess Cruises (which Carnival subsequently purchased) with deliberately dumping plastic wastes overboard from its ships in violation of MARPOL and the Act of Prevent Pollution from Ships and fined it $500,000 in the Southern District of Florida.

In sum, Carnival has been continuously polluting the air and water for thirty years, despite over $80,000,000 in fines.

Environmental Dodges and Cheat Devices

Carnival prides itself of being the the leader in using what it calls “advanced air quality systems” (a/k/a “scrubbers”) which it uses on 85 of its 102 ships, according to a recent article in Skift. Many critics describe scrubbers as “cheat devices” which turn air pollution into water pollution by scrubbing the sulfer dioxide and non-combustible particles from the smokestacks and discharding the toxic sludge into the water.

The upcoming IMO regulations, which are effective in January 2020, require ships to use fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 %). However, the IMO permitted a loophole requested by the shipping industry. A cruise line can continue to use the lower cost but high-sulfur fuel, as long as they install an exhaust gas cleaning system, (i.e., a “scrubber”) on the ship to maintain emissions at the same levels as low-sulfur fuel. Rather than purchasing higher prices low sulphur fuels, Carnival has chosen to use scrubbers because it is cheaper, notwithstanding the harmful effect to the water and ocean life by discharding the toxic wastewater.

Carnival Status Conference Scheduled for December 2019:

Yesterday, Judge Seitz scheduled a hearing for December 19th, at 10:00 a.m. in the U.S. Government’s case against Carnival Corporation to discuss, among other issues, “compliance challenges” regarding incidents mentioned in Carnival’s Quarterly Tracking Chart filings, including air emissions, as well as the discharge of non-food items including plastics in food waste, and the discharge of other prohibited waste streams, including ballast water, black water (sewage), garbage, grey water, and oil and oily wastes.

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November 4, 2019 Update:

Carnival Cruise Line responded to a FOX News reporter who covered the incident in an article published today titled: Carnival Cruise Line says smoke seen in Carnival Freedom photo was caused by engine turbocharger malfunction. Carnival claims that the “Carnival Freedom emitted dark smoke from the funnel. This was related to a malfunction of an engine turbocharger (which) was quickly shut down and the smoke ceased.”

TravePulse published Cruise Ship Reportedly Seen Spewing Black Smoke Over Cayman Islands.

Express Cruise: Black bellows from Carnival cruise ship – are passengers at risk from pollution?

The Caymans News Service published Carnival’s pollution grabs headlines in which it published another photograph (left) of the Carnival Freedom belches smoke, as it was tendering passengers. Yes, that’s a rainbow in the background.

Photo credits: Carnival Freedom – Anonymous; Carnival Victory – PTZtv.; Carnival Freedom – Cayman News Service.

A Norwegian newspaper reports that a woman in her 40’s fell from the deck of a Hurtigruten cruise ship as it approached the port in Ålesund.

Sunnmorsposten reports that the unidentified woman was located in the water about an hour after she went overboard from the M/S Finnmarken following an extensive search involving a helicopter and six vessels.

After her initial rescue, the passenger was rushed to a local hospital in Ålesund where she was described as in “extremely serious” condition. She was transferred to the larger St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim where she reportedly died.

A Norwegian police department posted details of the progress of the search and rescue efforts via Twitter:

Forbes and Newsweek covered the story in English.

Forbes stated that “Local police held the vessel in Ålesund while an investigation was conducted. They have since said there is ‘no reason to believe’ there was any criminal activity involved, but the investigation will continue in order to ‘clarify the circumstances’ surrounding the woman’s fall.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, there have been  356 people who have gone overboard since 2000. To our knowedge, no one has gone overboard from a Hurtigruten ship in the past.

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Photo credit: MS Finnmarken in Kirkenes – Chris from Wien, Austria CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

The Associated Press reports tonight that a grandfather who police say dropped the young child from the Freedom of the Seas docked in Puerto Rico last in July has arrested on charges of negligent homicide in the child’s death.

Today, a judge ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello after state prosecutors submitted evidence that the 2 year-old girl fell to the pavement when he raised her up to an open window on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

We reported on the incident on July 7, 2019 – Two Year Old Child Dies After Falling From Freedom of the Seas.

ABC News initially reported that police said that the grandfather of the little girl from Indiana told officers he lost his grip while holding her outside a window on the 11th story of the cruise ship. Later, the family’s Miami lawyer said that the grandfather lifted her up and put her on a railing on the mistaken belief that there there is a glass window at that location.

I explained to a newspaper that proving negligence won’t be an easy feat for the family: “In order for a cruise line to be legally liable for this child’s death, the family’s lawyer must prove that the cruise line acted unreasonably and that the cruise line knew or should have known of the specific danger on its ship . . .  This will be an exceedingly difficult burden for the lawyer to meet in this very sad and tragic set of circumstances. Without evidence (prior incidents or proof that the cruise line knew of a dangerous condition on the cruise ship) the chances are slim that the court (if suit is filed) would permit this case to proceed to a jury trial.”

As we previously reported, there have been relatively few situations where toddlers have fallen from upper decks on cruise ships. In 2012, a 14 month old toddler fell from deck 12 to deck 11 on the Monarch of the Seas and was injured.  The ship turned around and returned to Port Canaveral, Florida, where the child received urgent medical care and recovered.

The grandfather is reportedly being held on $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20th.

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Photo credit: Freedom of the Seas -By Beyond My Ken – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; Freedom of the Seas interior  – Michael Winkleman via WDRB.

A twenty-six year old passenger reportedly went overboard from the Carnival Dream yesterday evening. The incident happened when the Carnival cruise ship was around 50 miles southeast of Galveston when the man apparently jumped from his cabin’s balcony, according to comments made by Carnival to a local news station KTRK-TV.

News reports late ast night included a video taken by a cruise passenger of a rescue boat shining a flashlight into the dark waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Carnival Cruise Line is one of the cruise companies which refuses to invest in automatic man overboard systems (MOB), as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. Such systems utlize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology to send a signal directly to the bridge when a person goes over the rails and then tracks the person in the water even at night.

Cruise ships without such systems first conduct a manual search of the ship and then review the video of cameras along the side of the ship (which are not actively manned) to see if they show someone going overboard.  Such “old school” systems delay rescue efforts. It’s akin to looking for a needle in a hatstack. In this case, news accounts indicate that the Carnival Dream had to sail around 25 minutes to return to the area where the man apparently jumped in the water.

The U.S Coast Guard stated that it was first notified of the situation at 8:45 p.m. last night. It then lauched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Houston and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Corpus Christi. The rescue efforts have not been successful.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s popular cruise site CruiseJunkie indicates that 355 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. Most cruise lines have not installed automatic MOB systems. There are numerous available for use such as shown here and here.

The Carnival ship was beginning a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico.

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We suggest reading: Rosie Spink’s article for Quartz- People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it?

Carnival Dream photo credit: Myselfalso CC BY-SA 3.0 commons / wikimedia. Video credit: Charles Griffith via Lauren Talarico‏ / @KHOULauren.

The Spanish Rescue Company, Salvamento Marítimo, medevaced a 73 year-old woman from the Celebrity Reflection today.

The Celebrity cruise ship was reportedly 50 miles west of Palma de Mallorco at the time of the medical evacuation. The helicopter flew the passenger to the hospital of Son Espases, which is north of Palma in Spain.

There is no public information regarding the nature of the cruise guest’s medical emergency or her current condition.

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Photo credit: Moonik – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons/wikimedia.

A Disney crew member is heading toward trial in Miami-Dade County on multiple criminal charges that he engaged in lewd and lascivious molestation of a ten year old child aboard the Disney Magic.

The Miami-Dade County Police Department arrested 24 year old Oliver Lovatt on allegation that he sexually molested a young boy in the “Oceaneer Kids Lab” aboard the Disney Magic last April.

The Miami Herald reports that “Lovatt blindfolded a 10-year-old boy and spun him around several times as part of a game. It was at that time he ‘fondled the victim’s penis outside of the clothing,’ according to a Miami-Dade police arrest report. The boy also told police that the Disney youth counselor sat next to him while he was playing a game building a house of cards.  When Lovatt reportedly moved his hand towards the child, the boy covered his genitals, fearing he’d be fondled again.

Lovatt is from Manchester, Britain where he excelled in acting, dancing and singing in his youth.

The Herald also reported that the molestation was captured by surveillance cameras and Lovatt confessed to police that he fondled the child.

The criminal trial of Lovatt (photo right, before he began working for Disney) is scheduled to begin in two weeks on Octobeer 28, 2019 before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Andrea Ricker Wolfson. Althought the incident occurred in April, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is just now asking the public whether “there are any other victims out there.” (Anyone with information can call the Miami-Dade Special Victims Bureau at 305-715-3300). There appears to be no efforts to date by Disney to inform families who traveled on the Disney Magic of the pedophile tendencies of its employee, and ask the parents to be on the look out for signs of sexual abuse after their cruises.

Around one-third of sexual assault victims on cruise ships are reportedly minors. And there have been many reported sexual assaults of victims on cruise ships operated by Disney Cruises, which obviously caters to children.

Here are some examples of prior cases where children were attacked during cruises on Disney cruises:

In December of 2015, a 31 year old crew member was arrested for molesting  an 11-year-old girl. The crime also occured aboard the Disney Magic. The Miami-Dade police detained the crew member when it returned to the port of Miami, where he  confessed to the crime. He was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor and sentenced to jail.  We are representing the child and her parents in a claim against Disney.

In 2014, a a 33 year-old Disney waiter molested an 11 year-old girl aboard the Disney Dream at the port of Cape Canaveral. The staff captain of the ship reportedly ordered a security officer to “keep her mouth shut” after she investigated the sexual assault of the child. Disney then sailed the ship and the perpetrator out of the jurisdiction and flew him back to his home in India from the next port (Nassau).

The security officer said that she felt like Disney tried to sweep the crime under the carpet, partly because the little girl and her grandmother were Brazilian. “Disney wouldn’t have got away with it if they were Americans,” she said. Read more here: Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream?

We created a Facebook photo album of images from the investigation which was aired by WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando, which you can see here.

A 24 year old passenger was indicted in 2010 for sexually  abusing a 13 year old girl on the Disney Wonder.  The girl attended a program at the cruise ship’s teen club with other girls. The adult passenger approached the girls, claiming to be an employee of the cruise line, and told them to return to their rooms. He instructed the child in question to follow him because he was allegedly a security officer with the cruise ship.  When they reached an area where no other people were around, he then assaulted the girl. A federal district court sentenced the passenger to 46 months in prison and ordered him to pay restitution.

We also suggest reading: Denial, Skepticism Plague Sexual Assaults Against Passengers on Cruises.

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Photographs / screengrab: Miami Dade Police Department (top); Vimeo – Oliver Lovatt (middle); WKMG (bottom).