A twenty-year old man cruising with his family went overboard late last night as the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas was returning to Port Everglades following a four day cruise to the Amber Cover cruise port in the Dominican Republic.

The Miami Herald reported that the passenger went overboard “about 57 miles off Great Inagua, the southernmost island of the Bahamas, located near the eastern tip of Cuba, according to information from the U.S. Coast Guard.” Other newspapers, including the New York Post, report that the young man was in an obvious state of intoxication after drinking through the evening. According to news accounts from one of his friend, he was in a crowded hot tube until around 3:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, he reportedly walked toward the elevators when he suddenly jumped overboard. “Some passengers said it appeared to be an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decision.”

None of the newspaper who reported on this most recent cruise ship overboard (there have been 406 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships or ferries in the last 25 years according to the definitive analysis by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein), mention the fact that no cruise ships owned or operated by Royal Caribbean (or Carnival or NCL or most other cruise lines) are equipped with life saving automatic man overboard systems as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.

Such automatic MOB systems utilize state-of-the-art motion detection, video and infrared technology and radar to instantly detect when someone goes over the rails of a cruise ship. The system can then track the person’s movements in the water even at nighttime. In this case, where the person is clearly seen going overboard, the MOB radar and infrared technology would nonetheless be crucial in assisting the ship in locating and rescuing the person in the water. Without such a system, the chances of locating an overboard person in the water at night it like finding a needle in a haystack.

This young man has not been located to date, despite an extensive Coast Guard Search.

The New York Post erroneously reported that ‘in the past few years, most cruise lines have enacted onboard safety measures and surveillance systems to help reduce the risk of overboard deaths.” It provided no facts regarding such a claim which, or course, is untrue. Only Disney Cruise Line ships and one MSC ship (MSC Meraviglia) have such MOB systems installed.

Many cruise fan sites, like Cruise Hive for example, make absolutely no mention whatsoever of the absence of man overboard systems on cruise ships but still make the argument that “cruise lines go out of their way to make sure their ships as safe as possible, such as by installing high railings on outdoor areas and balconies.”  It’s as if the U.S. Congress never enacted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which first required cruise lines to install advanced MOB systems.

The absence of such systems on 99% of cruise ships clearly indicates that the cruise industry is not serious in taking meaningful steps to reduce deadly cruise ship overboard cases. The majority of passengers who go overboard are grossly intoxicated by the excessive amount of alcohol sold during cruises. One of the first things that the security department on Royal Caribbean cruise ships does to investigate the reason someone has gone overboard is to print out the passenger’s itemization of onboard purchases. Such documentation lists the alcoholic drinks sold and the time and location of the bar where the guest was served. We have seen many cases where the guest will be sold 15 to 20 drinks in a few hours before they go overboard. The most drinks we have seen served to a Royal Caribbean guest, just 21 years old, is 22 drinks in a 4 hours period. He went overboard (but survived) from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas many years ago.

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Image credit: Liberty of the SeasWikiEK at English Wikipedia  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Today noted maritime historian, mariner, and host of the popular maritime YouTube page “What’s Going On With Shipping?” Sal Mercogliano  posted a reference to the Crystal Symphony sailing the Red Sea:

Yes, the Crystal Cruises ship actually transited the dangerous Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and sailed through the Red Sea where Houthi rebels previously fired missiles and struck commercial vessels. The Houthis in Yemen have exerted control of Red Sea to the west and the Gulf of Aden to the south by attacking commercial vessels in the area. Yemen’s Houthis have targeted a large number of ships owned or operated by the U.S. and/or Israelis companies or ships they determine are heading to Israel using cruise missiles, drones, and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

One of the first ships targeted was the Galaxy Leader, controlled by an Israeli shipping magnate, which the Houthis boarded and sailed to Yemen. YouTube videos have been widely circulated showing Houthi forces hijacking the Galaxy Leader ship via helicopter and holding its crew at gunpoint on the Red Sea.

The attack by the Houthis was a well orchestrated military exercise and a far cry from a skiff operated by Somali pirates at sea.

The Houthis’ attacks on commercial shipping has included vessels unrelated to Israel and have included ships not owned by Israeli or U.S. companies. Around 60 ships have been attacked by the Houthis, one UK-owned cargo ship sunk and three mariners have been killed.

In response to my inquiry on Twitter where I asked Crystal Cruises “WTF?” the cruise line tweeted that the Crystal Symphony was allegedly sailing without passengers on a repositioning voyage to the Mediterranean. It also claims that it was “escorted by U.S. Navy as standard precautionary measure.”

I first inquired about the risks presented to the over 500 crew members who were in fact on this cruise ship.

I also asked Crystal Cruises for the name of the U.S. warship which allegedly escorted the cruise ship past the dangerous straits between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. (Crystal ignored the inquiry prompting me today to make a Freedom of Information request for the information from the U.S. Navy). If the U.S. Navy was really involved, why on earth would a U.S. military vessel find itself escorting a non-commercial vessel, particularly a pleasure cruise ship flagged in the Bahamas? Why should U.S. sailors risk their lives protecting a vacation cruise ship flying the Bahamian flag?

The question also arises what, if anything, did Crystal Cruises pay the U.S. Navy for the extraordinary services of a U.S. military escort of a Bahamian flagged cruise ship through this dangerous area?

At least one other cruise ship recently sailed through these highly dangerous waters. I learned through a Twitter post that Ponant Cruises’ La Champlain cruise yacht was sailing through the Red Sea today:

We have received no indication whether the Ponant yacht was sailing with passengers or was under military escort.

Cruise lines have the alternative to avoid the Red Sea and the risk of a Houthi attack, but some companies appear to be motivated by avoiding the cost and inconvenience of sailing around South Africa. Financially strapped lines, like Crystal Cruises, which we last reported on two years ago when it was avoiding creditors and having its ships seized before it finally filed for bankruptcy, fits squarely in this category. Risking injury or death to its crew members obviously were not important considerations to Crystal Cruises.

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April 3, 2024 Update:

@NoamRaydan, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute (a think tank studying American interests in the Middle East) reported on Twitter yesterday that the Crystal Symphony came under attack when it was sailing in the Red Sea, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO)

The UKMTO stated that the Master of the Crystal Symphony reported that “they were hailed by an entity claiming to be the Yemini Navy who requested that the vessel turn on its AIS (Automatic Information System). Shortly after the hailing, a crew member of the vessel reported that they heard suspected gun shots.” (The incident reportedly occurred at night).

This totally contradicts Crystal Cruises’ claim that the U.S. Navy escort was a “standard precautionary measure” or that the voyage was “safely and successfully” completed.

Image credit: Map of attacks – HAARETZ; La Champlain – Ponant Cruises; Crystal Symphony Bahnfrend – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; Galaxy Leader – Mail Online; data and map image of Houthi attacks on Crystal Symphony and commercial vessels – the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and NoamRaydan, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

Miami-Dade police officers arrested a cruise passenger from Indianapolis, Indiana last Friday on charges that he molested a teenage girl on a recent Carnival cruise, according to Miami’s local 10 News.

Police arrested Jason LeFavour, age 44, when the Carnival Conquest returned to PortMiami, on a charge of “lewd and lascivious molestation of a child.”

The Carnival Conquest operates short (three or four day) cruises to the Bahamas.

The local news stations report that LeFavour grabbed the “left buttocks” of the girl “with his hand” as he walked past the 13-year-old child on a lower deck “just before 9 p.m. Thursday.” During an interview with police, LeFavour told detectives “he did not remember his actions at the time of the incident due to him being intoxicated.”

As I have reported numerous times,  Carnival Cruise Line’s sexual assault rate is higher on a per capita basis than twenty-seven of the fifty states in the U.S. One-third of sexual assaults on cruise ships are committed against children. Much of the violence on Carnival cruise ships is due to the out of control alcohol which this cruise line serves on its twenty-six cruise ships. This case is an example of exactly that.

The fortunate thing about cruises departing from the state of Florida is that by statute, local law enforcement officers in Miami (Miami-Dade Police), Fort Lauderdale (Broward County Sheriff’s Office) and other law enforcements in port cities in Florida have jurisdiction to investigate crimes on cruise ships which call on Florida ports. State prosecutors also have authority to bring criminal charges against passengers and/or crew members, based on the results of the investigation of local law enforcement officials. In all states other other than Florida, only the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has authority to investigate crimes which occur on cruise ships. Unfortunately, the FBI is often reluctant to investigate crimes such as drunken bar fights and molestation of children which occur all too often on Carnival cruise ships.

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Image credit: Carnival Conquest –  NormanEinstein wikipedia / commons 3.0; Jason LeFavour – Local News 10 (Miami).

Today, I watched a TicTok video posted by Crystalmerier3 who recently went on a four day vacation cruise from Galveston, Texas to ports in Mexico with her seven-year old daughter. During the cruise, they went together to a movie on the Lido Deck to watch Spiderman when mom went for about one minute to get a drink for her child.

When she returned, her daughter was upset and crying. Another passenger, a man, approached her daughter in the dark and attempted to entice her to leave with him, saying “you need to come with me.” He claimed that he had lost his cell phone and needed help finding it.

She immediately reported the incident to Carnival’s security but was rebuffed as you can see in the video. She posted the video as a warning to parents to watch their children at all times.

We have posted many articles about Carnival Cruise Line’s significant sexual assault rate which is higher on a per capita basis than twenty-seven of the fifty states in the U.S. One-third of sexual assaults on cruise ships are committed against children.

Crystalmercier3 posted a follow up video on TikTok to address “parent shaming” in response to her video. It seems that some people were quick to cast criticisms for Crystal leaving her daughter for just a minute without addressing the issue that the cruise line security was clearly indifferent to the problem.

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Image credit: Crystalmercier; Carnival Breeze Cruisemapper

In an exclusive story, Cruise Law News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation plans to incorporate its business in the United States (in Florida). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival’s headquarters in Miami. 

Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 50 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America. 

Cruise Law News learned of this historic event when high-profile maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival’s Chairman Micky Arison at court side last week when Arison’s basketball team, the Miami Heat, beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: “Micky, if Jimmy Butler pays tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes on his one-hundred and fifty million dollar contract with Carnival, don’t you think it is fair that Carnival – which earns over 20 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket and onboard booze sales– pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?”

Perhaps it was the euphoria of Carnival repealing the automatic man overboard safety law, but Micky was ecstatic. “Yes, let’s do it!” he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.

While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, cruise lawyer Walker happened to have Florida articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships. 

Arison has been under intense pressure lately following repeated collisions, sinkings, criminal indictments for wide-spread pollution, poop-cruises, coronavirus outbreaks and multiple funnel fires which have ruined the last 100 Carnival cruises. Senator Jay Rockefeller called Arison a “scallywag” on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships, which lead all cruise lines in sexual assaults, drunken bar fights and overboard passengers, collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.

Arison commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 52 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes when he retired.

“I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred percent of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $6,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage, and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Arison announced over the arena’s PA system: “It’s time that poor, over-worked crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!”

While appreciative of Arison’s change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $8 for the remains of the hot dog and $10 for the rest of the Bud Light.

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Originally published April 1, 2015.

See our other April 1st articles:

NCL Imposes Keelhauling to Motivate Crew Members

Royal Caribbean to Homeport Empress of the Seas in Havana

Image credit: Fire on Carnival Freedom – May 2022 – Ricky Ruble via FOX 25 Orlando; fire on March 2024 – spacecoastdaily.com

On Friday, March 22, 2024, an explosion in the engine room of Holland America Line’s (HAL) cruise ship resulted in the release of steam which led to the death of two crew members. The catastrophic explosion, combined with a series of mistakes in responding to the accident, caused the deaths of two HAL employees, including Wawan Gusnawan from Indonesia and a second ship employee from the Philippines whose family requested that we do not disclose his name .

The accident took place shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Friday while the HAL cruise ship was anchored (or was maneuvering on dynamic positioning) at the cruise line’s private Bahamian destination of Half Moon Cay (there is no dock). The Filipino crew member, employed as a third engineer, and Mr. Gusnawan, employed as a wiper, were reportedly installing filters when a steam compensator, unrelated to their duties, exploded. The part which failed is called a “steam bellow.” The official name of the defective equipment is a “thermal expansion joint” (photo immediately below).

The explosion released steam into the engine room. The bridge reportedly ordered an alarm and shut down the ventilation to the space before it was evacuated. The two crew members, who were not equipped with Emergency Escape Breathing Devices (EEBD), were unable to manually open the closed, heavy hydraulic doors. They were trapped in the space. They apparently suffocated due to the lack of oxygen and hot steam (180 degrees Celsius/ over 350 Fahrenheit). The hot steam and lack of oxygen which overwhelmed them. Their bodies were located near the closed water tight doors.

A HAL fan page contained an image of steam being vented from the engine room of the HAL cruise ship

This preliminary information, the photo of the steam bellow (above), and a video of the location of the accident (below) were provided by cruise employees who wishes to remain anonymous.

Other than issuing a press statement which offered “thoughts and prayers” and offering counseling to crew members affected by the tragedy, HAL did not release any details or provide the names of the two crew members or their job positions. Nor did HAL offer any explanation into how the accident occurred. Instead, the cruise line referred to the deadly engine room accident innocuously as an “incident in an engineering space.” HAL says that it notified “the appropriate authorities” and is currently investigating the incident. HAL did not identify the investigating agency nor state whether it will release additional information. (HAL later stated that the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) was leading the investigation), although this ship flies the flag of the Netherlands (see update below).

Cruise lines which perform investigations following accidents of this type keep their finding and conclusions secret. HAL will subsequently claim that its investigation is privileged and protected from disclosure to the public. HAL will never volunteer any information about what happened two days ago resulting in the deaths of the two crew members.

Because these crew members are citizens of the Philippines (but see update below), HAL will claim that their surviving family members are subject to the provisions of the Philippines Overseas Employment Agreement (POEA) which applies to all Filipino seafarers and their families. The POEA provides very limited damages of only $50,000, and only $7,500 per child, when Filipino seafarers die while employed on cruise ships. Cruise lines like HAL have inserted arbitration clauses in their crew members’ employment contracts which prohibit ship employees and their families from filing lawsuits in the U.S. before a judge and jury. HAL will eventually offer to pay a pittance to the families of these two innocent, hard working crew members, despite the fact that they died due to the obvious faulty condition of the HAL cruise ship, the lack of safety equipment, and the apparent negligence of their supervisors and bridge officers. Meanwhile, HAL will continue to keep the circumstances of the accident secret and its substantial wrongdoing away from public scrutiny.

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March 24, 2024 Update:

We have learned that Mr. Gusnawan is from Indonesia. Therefore, his family is not subject to the POEA and Filipino law. His family is still required to comply with the arbitration clause in his employment contract prohibiting them from filing suit in the U.S. Mr. Gusnawan was married with two children, a daughter and young son.

Condolences to the family, friends and co-employees of both of these men.

There reportedly were five crew members in the engine room before the explosion. Three left the room before the explosion and closed the water-tight door behind them. The fire team, which assembled after the explosion, could not open the doors for reason not currently known (perhaps the hydraulic oil became too hot and the hydraulic pump could not build up adequate pressure). The emergency manual hand pump reportedly did not work.

ABC World News Tonight aired this program on Sunday evening, March 24,2024:

@abcworldnews

Bahamian authorities are investigating the deaths of two crew members aboard a Holland America cruise ship. #ReenaRoy has new information on how they died. #WorldNewsTonight #WNT #DavidMuir #News #ABCNEWS

♬ original sound – ABC World News Tonight

March 25, 2024 Update:

The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) will conduct an investigation. This is a good development as the OVV has a reputation for thorough, non-biased maritime investigations unlike internal reports by the Carnival Corporation owner. The OVV is comparable to the NTSB here in the U.S. So it will issue a formal report which will be released to the public

Image Credit: Engine room and failed steam bellow- anonymous; Nieuw AnsterdamJonathan Palombo CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

A twenty-three (23) year-old man from Scotland went overboard from the MSC Euribia last week. We first heard of the incident via an inquiry on Facebook asking for information about a young man missing from the MSC ship.

We subsequently learned that the full name of the passenger is “Liam Brody Wilkie Jones,” from Dundee, Scotland. One newspaper, Daily Record, referred to the young man as “Liam Jones.” Mr. Jones was traveling with family members and friends on the MSC cruise ship. He reportedly was last seen on deck by his sister after texting his wife back home complaining that he was feeling seasick, according to the Scottish Sun.

The circumstances of Mr. Jones going overboard are less than clear. Family members on Facebook commented that they were frustrated by the lack of communications by the cruise line and the fact that there was no timely announcement on the ship that a person went overboard. There reportedly is absolutely no indication that the ship took efforts to promptly conduct a search and rescue. The MSC cruise ship reportedly did not alter speed or direction, deploy rescue craft, or use spotlights.

This is the sixth person to go overboard from a MSC cruise ship in just the last four months. One passenger died from the fall, one survived and recovered, and three guests and one crew member disappeared in the water.

On February 14, 2024, a 72-year-old U.S. passenger died after falling from MSC’s World Europa into the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta.

On February 4, 2024, a passenger fell off the MSC Bellissima cruise ship traveling from Taiwan to Okinawa. According to the Taiwan News, the passenger was located, pulled from the water and then rushed to a hospital, where he was reported to be in good condition following medical treatment.

On December 30, 2023, a passenger went overboard from the MSC Preziosa after the MSC cruise ship left the port of Santos heading to New Year’s Eve festivities in Rio de Janeiro.

A passenger went overboard from the MSC Armonia during a transatlantic cruise to Brazil on December 15, 2023.

A crew member went overboard from the MSC Seascape in waters off of Puerto Rico on November 15, 2023.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein‘s definitive data, Mr. Jones is the 405th person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship since 2000.

Maritime law requires ship owners to immediately take steps to search and rescue passengers (or crew members) as soon as they realize that someone has gone overboard. As a practical matter, this typically involves turning the ship around to the area where the person left the ship. The crew will often deploy rescue lifecraft and utilize spotlights to search for the overboard person. The captain usually makes announcements that the ship is involved in looking for an overboard guest.

Sometimes the person is not witnessed going overboard. If the ship is not equipped with CCTV cameras which are actively monitored, the ship will continue to sail on until a family member on the ship or other traveling companion reports the person missing. The ship would then perform a cabin-by-cabin search on the ship for the person as well as manually look through CCTV images to see if they can locate the missing person and determine whether the person actually went overboard. Announcements will be made for the passenger to report to the guest relations desk.

In this case, it is highly unusual for a person to go overboard without any announcement being made.

In the U.S., there is a federal statute which requires that cruise ships install automatic man overboard (MOB) systems. These systems utilize motion detection, infra-red and radar technology to send an alarm to the bridge when someone goes over the rails and then track the person in the water even at night. Such systems lead to a much quicker detection and substantially increase the chances of a successful rescue. Otherwise, searching for an overboard person at night is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

There is no legal requirement outside of the U.S. for cruise ships to have such automatic detection systems installed. At least one MSC ship has the technology installed. In 2017, we reported that MSC Cruises announced that it had installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and was planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

Back in 2017, MSC Cruises indicated that it developed an “intelligent video capturing and analysis system” in collaboration with “security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.” The Swiss-based cruise line announced that it has tested the new man overboard system on the company’s newest ship which debuted in June (2017).  MSC reported that “through over 25,000 hours of video analysis, extensive software testing and continuous algorithmic updates, the system has now reached a confirmed accuracy level of 97%.”

MSC touted at the time that the MOB data and images are analyzed by two separate and independent image processing systems which significantly lower false alerts. “Once the alarm is activated in case of an overboard, an acoustic signal and light will notify the ship’s security officer, in a central security room, who can immediately retrieve and review the images and data and immediately notify the bridge to begin rescue efforts,” according to  Seatrade Cruise News. MSC Cruises announced MSC Meraviglia is “fitted with an integrated video surveillance system to optimize security monitoring on board the ship and which will allow, among other features, for the speediest intervention in the unlikely event a person or object falls overboard.”

In July 2019, a cruise guest in her 40’s went overboard from the MSC Meraviglia but was promptly rescued after the auto MOB alerted the crew that she went overboard.

Unfortunately, nearly five years later, it appears that MSC has still not installed this successful automatic MOB system on any of its twenty-one other cruise ships. This latest case seems to indicate that the MSC Euribia did not have a detection system installed.

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Image Credit: Liam Jones – Daily Record; MSC EuribaND44 CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia.

A gastrointestinal disease outbreak aboard the Holland America Line (HAL) Koningsdam cruise ship has sickened 110 passengers and crew members, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC found that 98 of 2,522 (3.89%) guests and 12 of 961 (1.25%) crew member have become ill with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting during the current cruise on the HAL ship which began its voyage on February 17, 2024.

Stool samples tested by the CDC were found to contain norovirus.

This is the third disease outbreak this year involving a cruise ship. The Celebrity Constellation and Cunard’s Queen Victoria previously experiencing norovirus outbreaks which sickened 100 and 154 people respectively. There were fourteen gastrointestinal outbreaks in 2023, all caused by norovirus

Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causes of norovirus outbreaks in contaminated food or water. The common reaction of a cruise line in response to a gastrointestinal outbreak is to blame the passengers and imply that the shipborne illness was caused by passengers failing to wash their hands. But a guest can wash their hands and use hand sanitizers all day long but still become ill if the food is prepared by an infected galleyhand.

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Image credit: Norovirus – Graham Beards at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0 commons / wikimedia; HAL Koningsdam Kees Torn – KONINGSDAM, CC BY-SA 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

The Miami-Dade Police Department arrested a twenty-one (21) year old man from Georgia for sexually propositioning a fourteen (14) year-old boy in the sauna of the Explorer of the Seas, according to numerous local new accounts. The police charged cruise passenger Anish Shan of Columbus, Georgia with two felony violations of Florida law: (1) lewd and lascivious conduct, and (2) lewd and lascivious exhibition on a child under 16.

The crime occurred when the Explorer of the Seas was on a five day cruise to the Western Caribbean which left Miami on March 3rd and sailed to Falmouth (Jamaica), Labadie (Haiti), and returned to Miami on March 8th. Last Tuesday, when the Royal Caribbean ship was in international waters sailing to Jamaica, Mr. Sahn approached the 14-year-old child in the sauna at around 7 p.m. According to the news accounts, Shan asked the boy how old he was.

“Police said after the boy told him he was 14, Shan ‘started to masturbate’ all while ‘making eye contact with the victim.’ The arrest report states Shan then asked the boy if he’d ever had oral sex before. Police said after the boy replied ‘no,’ Shan then ‘solicited oral sex’ from the teen, which he declined.”

The news accounts state that it is unclear whether Shan was detained at sea following the alleged incident, but the Miami-Dade police took him into custody Friday after the cruise ship returned to Port Miami. Following his arrest, Shah was released from the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $12,500 bond.

This incident follows the recent news from the Symphony of the Seas where a thirty-four (34) year old crew member employed by Royal Caribbean secretly placed a spy-camera in the bathroom of a mother and her two adult daughters who were sharing a cabin. The Broward County Sheriff’s office and the FBI arrested the crew member on multiple charges of video voyeurism and child pornography after his camera and electronic devices indicated that he also videotaped children as young as five to ten years of age in various forms of undress. Read: Cruise Ship Worker Accused of Hiding Cameras in Bathrooms to Spy on Guests.

Interested in this issue? Read: Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships.

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Image Credit: Explorer of the SeasKees Torn – SA 2.0, commons / Wikimedia; Anish Shan – Miami Dade Police via Mugshots Zone.

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Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady has created quite a stir over the last several months when it called on Hobart, Tasmania during its regular three-six day cruises from Melbourne and Sydney. The cruise ship has been extensively photographed belching out smoke which fills the port, sparking a heated debate whether the public is seeing just harmless steam, as the cruise line (and some government officials) want you to believe, or toxic smoke endangering the residents of the waterfront community.

The Resilient Lady Arrives in Port Smoking Heavily

Australia’s Mercury newspaper addressed the spectacle with a (paywell-protected) article entitled “Colossal Cruise Ship’s Smoke Plumes Cause Alarm,” stating:

“A gargantuan cruise liner that departed Hobart on Sunday has kicked off a debate over the potential air pollution caused by large ships, after the 278m vessel belched plumes of smoke across the Derwent River.”

Other Australian newspapers, such asthe Pulse Tasmania, published dramatic photographs depicting incredible plumes of smoke emanating from the Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship which repositioned to Australia last December. The Pulse article states that since its inaugural visit to Tasmania in 2023, the Resilient Lady has become a “regular topic in community groups on social media.” Thick smoke has filled the Hobart Waterfront every time the Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship docks in the city “causing concerns for locals.”

The Pulse contained questionable opinions of Wes Ford, the Director of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Tasmania, who did not believe the ship was a “significant issue” and claimed that emissions from the ship are allegedly “within acceptable limits.”

The newspaper quoted Mr. Ford, who admitted that “he did not know the exact cause of the emissions,” suggesting that “much of the visible smoke was likely steam and exhaust gases.” But the fact is that the EPA in Australia, which previously operated a monitoring station in Hobart, decommissioned the compliance system and no longer tests ship emissions. So it appears that governmental official Ford has no basis to claim that the voluminous emissions, clearly shown in these photographs, are somehow within whatever limits may apply.

Who Ya Going to Believe Me Or Your Lying Eyes?

We regularly hear some people, usually hard core cruise fans or occasionally an engineer employed by a cruise line, argue that photographs showing cruise ship stacks billowing out smoke like this are mostly emitting just “harmless steam.” I am reminded of the famous quote from Groucho Marx from the 1933 Marx Brothers film Duck Soup who asked: “who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Decades later, comedian Richard Pryor used the expression when his wife caught him in bed with another woman: “who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

Some cruise fans and supposed experts are essentially asking the public, who are naturally aghast at cruise ships belching out incredible amounts of smoke, not to believe their own eyes. They may claim “its just steam” don’t worry. Or they falsely suggest that what the public is seeing it just due to the vapors which will will somehow magically disappear.

Whether It’s Smoke or Smoke and Steam, Cruise Ships Are Dumping Toxic Sludge

But the debate of whether it’s just steam versus toxic emissions misses the indisputable fact that what is shown is the result of the scrubber systems operating to try and remove the residue from burning heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) with a high sulfur content and non-combustible soot from the ship’s emissions. The residual pollutants which scrubbers try to remove from the air are called “scrubber sludge” or simply “sludge, which is a toxic mix of metals, such as lead, nickel and zinc, as well as hydrocarbons, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds. In the “open loop” systems commonly used by most cruise ships, the toxic and acidic sludge is then dumped back into the ocean. But the fact is that the soot and toxic by-products of burning bunker fuel don’t just magically disappear. Most ships temporarily accumulate the toxic sludge after when the scrubber washes the stacks with water and then dump the sludge into the water.

Yes, some ports prohibit this nasty practice but most cruise ships engage in dumping scrubber sludge into the water. The scrubbers essentially turn air pollution into water pollution. See, Smoke and Mirrors: Cruise Line Scrubbers Turn Air Pollution Into Water Pollution.

Mr. Ford essentially admits this while trying to convince the public that the smoke is not really a problem, but just a mistaken perception, saying “so we see an exhaust system on a large ship that has a complicated mechanism for taking some of the more nasties out of the exhaust system. That is then discharged into the marine environment 12 nautical miles off the coast.”

But the truth is, as we have seen, some cruise ships dump the “nasties” (Mr. Ford’s word) not far-out-at-sea but in ports (like Princess cruise ships did in Alaskan ports). And some cruise ships have experienced a malfunction of their scrubbers (like the Carnival Magic which discharged five tons of sludge in Grand Turk).

Star Princess Scrubber Sludge at Berth 4 in Ketchikan, Alaska (photo credit City of Ketchikan)

Sir Richard Branson Responds to the Embarrassing Spectacle and Orders Resilient Lady to No Longer Burn HFO in Nobart, But is This Just a Temporary Fix?

Virgin Voyages’ founder Sr. Richard Branson has tried to defuse the ugly debate by ordering the Resilient Lady to switch fuel and no longer burn NFO (at least in Hobart) which was the root cause of the pollution in the first place.

This is a quick fix and only a short term solution to a long term problem. How will the residents in other port communities like Melbourne or Sydney respond? Will they criticize the Virgin Voyages’ ship when it arrives and begins to stink up these ports? What will the residents do once the Resilient Lady switches back to HFO and residents begin to choke from ship pollution?

My thought is that Virgin will be satisfied to simply “kick the can down the road,” so to speak, and hope that the bad press dies down. Like other cruise lines, Virgin is not going to switch from lower cost HFO simply to silence its critics.

If you are concerned with the trend of cruise ships to continue to burn HFO and dump toxic scrubber sludge at sea, please contact us. We are interested in seeing additional photos showing the emissions from this cruise ship and other ships in Virgin’s fleet. We remain, of course, interested in the conduct of the regular polluters, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

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Image credit: Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady – Pulse Tasmania; scrubber sludge from Star Princess in Ketchikan, Alaska – City of Ketchikan via  KRBD Community Radio;