A crew member employed on the AIDA operated and Carnival Corporation owned AIDAPerla cruise ship went overboard last night / early this morning as the ship was heading from Hamburg, Germany into the English Channel on a cruise to the Caribbean.

A German cruise passenger provided me with a detailed explanation of the tragic events. The chronology reveals that there was at least a four and one-half hour time period between when the crew member went overboard and when the ship finally turned around to begin search and rescue efforts.

Time Line From Cruise Passenger:

  • Shortly before 9:00 a.m. – captain is notified of overboard crew member (the Independent newspaper reports that”HM Coastguard was alerted at about 8:55 a.m.);
  • 10:03 a.m. – the AIDAPerla turns around and begins to head toward location of overboard crew member which appears to be around 60 miles;
  • 10:45 a.m. – captain notifies passengers of the man overboard situation;
  • 12:39 p.m. – captain makes another announcement confirming the “man overboard” report and stating that they would be at the site where the crew member went overboard “in about an hour;”
  • 1:30 p.m. – the AIDAPerla arrives at the search area and begins search (at this point,it was 4 & 1/2 hours after the ship reported the crew member missing to the U.K. authorities);
  • 6:23 p.m. – the captain announced that the Coast Guard had called off the search but the AIDAPerla sailed in the search area for about 1 hour.

The guest responded to these questions on Twitter:

The chronology of events belies AIDA’s press statement that “the captain and crew of AIDAperla immediately initiated all necessary rescue measures in close coordination with the local authorities.” In truth, the captain and crew had no idea that a crew member went overboard and the cruise ship continued to sail on it route for four and one-half hours until the crew member was reported missing. Even after reporting to the U.K. authorities that a crew member was missing from the ship, the captain still delayed turning the ship around to sail back to the search area for over an hour.

This case has all of the characteristics of another cruise ship which has not been equipped with a state of the art MOB system. Technology has long existed where the bridge can be automatically and immediately notified by motion detection systems that a person has gone overboard. The system then can verify and videotape that a person has gone over the railings and can even track the person in the water at night via radar and infrared technology.

Without such readily available systems, there inevitably are delays where the guest or ship employee is eventually noticed missing and the ship spends a couple of hours searching on the ship before it is belatedly discovered (typically after looking through surveillance video) that the person has gone over the railing. Delayed search and rescue efforts are usually deadly.

To our knowledge, not a single Carnival Corporation owned cruise ship has invested in the lifesaving MOB technology.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, there have been at least 394 people (guests and crew members) who have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last two and a half decades.

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October 27, 2023 Update:

Image credit: AIDAPerla – Philippe Alès – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons /wikimedia; AIS tracking image via @GuenniNMS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 73 (66 passengers and 7 crew members) on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady cruise ship reported being ill during the cruise that ended in Miami on Friday, with complaints of abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

This year, there have been 14 gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships that met the federal health agency’s threshold for public notification, more than any for the years between 2017 and 2019.

The CDC has not determined the “causative agent” for this most recent outbreak. Norovirus is listed as the causative agent in all other 13 cruise ship outbreaks this year.

Norovirus is the usual cause of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships and is commonly the cause of outbreaks in nursing homes, hospitals and daycare facilities. According to the CDC and FDA, the most likely cause for cruise ship GI outbreaks is contaminated water or food.

Virgin Voyages downplayed the outbreak, stating that  there is no impact to the upcoming cruise’s ports of call. Virgin Voyages’ COO Michelle Bentubo told USA TODAY: “We are working closely with the CDC and their medical professionals. There is currently no impact to the upcoming voyage’s departure time or ports of call.”

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Photo Credit: Scarlet Lady – Sidvics – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; molecure – BBC.

Today, a court in Hungary sentenced the captain (master) of the Viking Sigyn river cruise ship to five years and six months in jail for his negligence in causing the sinking of a Hungarian sightseeing boat, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), on the Danube River during the evening of May 29, 2019.

Hungarian Judge Dr. Leona Németh found that Captain Chaplinsky was negligent in the operation of the Viking river cruise ship which overtook and ran over the smaller sightseeing boat as the two vessels proceeded at night under the Margit Bridge on the Danube River in central Budapest.

At the time of the collision, there were 33 tourists and 2 Hungarian tour guides aboard the sightseeing boat. Twenty-five South Korean tourists and the two tour guides died. The body of one tourist could not be located.

There were no reports of injury on the Viking river ship (called a “longship” by Viking). The Washington Post‘s coverage of the collision contained a video of the incident.

Captain Chaplinsky was found guilty of “endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident,” according to the Budapest judge who also acquitted the captain of “failing to provide help.”

Before the verdict, Captain Chaplinsky, now 68 years old, voiced his”immense regret” for the fatalities. He reportedly stated before he was sentenced: “I can’t rest even for a minute because of the memories of this terrible tragedy. I can’t sleep at night because of them.”

Captain Chaplinsky has been in police custody since the collision, including being remanded to house arrest in Hungary since 2020, according to MRT. The judge ordered the time Chaplinsky has already served to count toward his five-and-a-half-year sentence. This will result in jail time of less than two years.

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Image credit: Master Yuriy Chaplinsky – Condé Nast Traveler / Deborah Dunn; Viking Sigyn collision – screengrab from ATV Magyarország YouTube.

A twenty-one year old college student was arrested last week after a grand jury indicted him on charges of assaulting a woman onboard the Carnival Legend earlier this year. The Department of Justice published a press release indicating that Jalen Kelly was indicted last week of (1) assault, (2) sexual abuse, and (3) aggravated sexual abuse of a young woman on the Carnival cruise ship.

The case was filed in federal court in Baltimore, Mayland. The defendant is from the state of Maryland where the cruise originated. The DOJ press release indicates that Mr, Kelly allegedly engaged in a “sexual act by force” and assaulted “Victim 1” without consent on board the Carnival Legend.

The press release credits the cooperation of the Wingate University Campus Safety and Wingate Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Kelley appears to be a student at Wingate University.

The indictment also includes “child exploitation forfeiture” allegations pursuant to 18 U.S. C. Section 2251 et seq. where the U.S. government seeks the recovery of any “film or videotape” or other “visual depictions” of the alleged sexual abuse.

The indictment and court records contain no details of the alleged crime but reasonably suggest that the victim may be a minor given the child exploitation forfeiture allegations.

The cruise industry refuses to disclose, generally, when the victim of a sexual assault on a cruise ship is a minor. However, testimony of the FBI before Congress indicates that approximately one-third of sex crimes on cruises are committed against children,

Cruise lines are required by law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010 (CVSSA), to report certain crimes to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which is required to post the crimes on a public database on a internet portal maintained by the federal agency. The crime data must be posted on a quarterly basis.

Unfortunately, the DOT has not posted any cruise ship crime data for this year (2023). The last crimes reported were in 2022.

The DOT data for 2022 indicates that there were a total of 87 sexual assaults on cruise ships for that year. Of this number, there were 33 sexual assaults reported on cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line, 22 on Royal Caribbean ships, and 7 on NCL ships.

Given the DOT’s failure to post the crime data, it is currently unknown whether sexual crimes during cruises are staying the same or are increasing.

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Image credit: Jalen Kelley – Gaston County Jail via Recently Booked; Carnival LegendYankeesman312 – CC BY-SA 4.0 wikipedia / creative commons.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced last week that Salem Christopher Diop, age 22, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a sexual assault charge.

The indictment and press release state that on July 8, 2023, Diop was on a cruise when he engaged in sexual assault with a victim “incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct.” The court filing and press release do not refer to the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the sexual assault took place.

Sexually assaulting a victim who is “incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct” typically occurs when the victim is impaired by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance.

The court file does not contain any details of the circumstances leading to the alleged sexual assault. The allegations constitute a felony.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny P. Roberts is prosecuting the case.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.

Cruise lines are required by law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010 (CVSSA), to report certain crimes to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which is suppose to post the crimes on a public database on a internet portal maintained by the federal agency. The crime data must be posted on a quarterly basis.

Unfortunately, the DOT has not posted any cruise ship crime data for this year. The last crimes reported were in 2022.

The DOT data for 2022 indicates that there were a total of 87 sexual assaults on cruise ships for that year. Of this number, there were 33 sexual assaults reported on cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line, 22 on Royal Caribbean ships, and 7 on NCL ships.

It is currently unknown whether sexual crimes during cruises are staying the same or are increasing given the DOT’s failure to post the crime data.

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The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010 requires cruise ships calling on U.S. port to report certain shipboard crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The CVSSA was the result of the efforts of the International Cruise Victim (ICV) which is a grass-roots organization created in 2006. The IVC was successful in convincing Congress, for the first time in the history of the cruise industry, to require the mandatory reporting by the cruise lines of certain crimes which occur on ships, including homicides, suspicious deaths, physical assaults resulting in serious bodily injuries and sexual crimes outlined in 18 U.S.C. 2241, 2241, 2243 and 2244.

The cruise industry opposed the legislation and was able to water down certain parts of the legislation. For example, cruise line lobbyists opposed the reporting of shipboard thefts and was successful in having language inserted in the CVSSA requiring reporting only where the amount of the stolen items exceed $10,000. Of course, most people do not travel with precious jewelry or carry that much cash. Crew members are aware that they face no criminal accountability if they steal a passenger’s iPhone, camera or other items no totaling $10,000.

The cruise line lobbyists were also successful in deleting proposed language which would require the industry to disclose whether the sexual assault victim was a minor.

The CVSSA Requires The Mandatory Reporting of Certain Crimes on Cruise Ships to the DOT

After initially requiring the FBI to report the crimes to the United States Coast Guard, the CVSSA now requires cruise lines to report the crimes to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT was tasked with posting the crime data on a quarterly basis on a spreadsheet located on an internet portal which you can see here.

The purpose of the public disclosure of mandatory reporting of sexual assaults, assaults with serious bodily injuries, missing U.S. nationals and deaths on cruise ships is to educate and warn the traveling public of dangers on cruise ships.

The DOT Currently Refuses to Disclose Cruise Ship Crimes

But the goal of transparency in reporting shipboard rapes on cruise ships has become completely illusory given the fact that the DOT has failed to report any crimes since 2022. The last quarter of cruise crimes reported by the DOT was the last quarter of 2022 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2022) which was eventually posted on March 22, 2023.

No cruise ship crimes for any of 2023 have been disclosed.

Before the CVSSA came into effect, cruise lines were not legally required to report crimes against U.S. citizens which occured on cruise ships. The cruise industry developed a well deserved reputation of not only refusing to report shipboard crimes, particularly rapes, but taking steps to destroy the scene of the crime and fly crew members accused of the crime out of the jurisdiction of the U.S. and back to their home countries. Read: Carnival? Try Criminal – an article by the Miami New Times about Carnival Cruise Line’s questionable conduct following a crime aboard the Carnival Fascination where a Carnival steward pushed a guest down on her cabin bed and raped her.

Since January 1, 2010, the cruise crime database has been available for review by the public who have had the benefit of learning the extent of the danger of crime on cruise ships. The media has been able to report on the allegations and highlight trends which have developed over the years.

Cruise lines reported 82 alleged sexual assaults from 2018 to the DOT, more than any other crime, according to Business Insider. Reports of sexual assault on cruises in late summer of 2019 spiked 67 percent from the previous year, according to the Washington Post.

We reported in December 2019 that, for the preceding 12 months, there were over 100 sexual assaults on cruise ships, according to the DOT crime data which showed:

  • Carnival Cruise Line: 43 sexual assault victims (37 passengers, 6 crew victims).
  • Royal Caribbean: 31 sexual victims (20 passengers, 11 crew victims.)

Carnival Cruise Line Has a Higher Per Capita Rape Rate Higher Than Many States

In 2019, Carnival currently had the same number of cruise ships as Royal Caribbean (26 ships each). But Royal Caribbean had far more passengers than Carnival at any given time. Royal Caribbean had a maximum of around 125,000 passengers, and Carnival Cruise Line had a maximum of around 75,000 passengers. This resulted in a higher per capita rape rate on Carnival cruise ship than its competitor Royal Caribbean.

The sexual assault rate on a per capita basis for Carnival Cruise Line as of 2019 was nearly 40 (39.6) per 100,000.  This number is calculated by taking the number of sexual assaults on Carnival ships reported to the FBI in the last 12 months (43), and dividing it by the total number of people on Carnival’s fleet of ships (around 75,000 passengers and approximately 33,500 crew members for a total of 108,500.

At several Congressional hearings on cruise ship crime, CLIA argued that per capita cruise ship crime rates should be based on the total number of people cruising in any year (around 30,000,000 people cruised in 2019) rather than the average number of people populating cruise ships on any given day.  By analogy, the per capita crime statistics for U.S. cities are calculated based only on the number of residents in a city, not the total amount of tourists who may visit the city for a short time.

CLIA’s misleading method of calculating crime substantially understated the rape rate on cruise ships.

Congress rejected CLIA’s argument and concluded that per capita cruise crime statistics should be calculated based on the average number of passengers sailing at a particular time, not on the annual number of passengers over the course of a year.

The per capita rate of sexual assaults on Carnival ships of 40 per 100,000 is significant. It is a higher per capita rate than twenty states, including California, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia (and over a dozen other states).

The per capita sexual assault rate of 40 per 100,000 on Carnival ships may actually be higher than this. These calculations assume that Carnival cruise ships are sailing at maximum capacity. Additionally, the definition of sexual assault under the C5VSSA is very restrictive and includes only a relatively small portion of the acts which would be deemed to constitute a sexual assault ashore. There has also been widespread criticism that the cruise lines often under-report the crimes which occur on their ships.

And of course, Carnival’s high sexual assault rate on its ships is not occurring in a state with high crime areas where there are gangs and “bad areas of town” but is occurring during what should be a relaxing, vacation get-away.

Too Much Booze on the “Fun Ships” and No Independent Law Enforcement

During an with Sun Online several years ago, I stated that “we see a direct correlation between excessive alcohol served on cruises and violence, in general, and sexual violence against women, in particular.”  Bartenders and waiters on cruise ships often receive tips and gratuities and are motivated to sell excessive amounts of alcohol in order to earn a living. There is no independent police force on these increasingly huge cruise ships. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse in what is often described as a “lawless environment.”

Few Prosecutions in Federal Court

A small percentage of sexual crimes against women at sea are prosecuted by the U.S. federal government. I attended a hearing in 2007 before Congress regarding cruise ship crime where a senior FBI official testified that only 7% of sexual assaults on cruise ships are prosecuted in federal court.

One-Third of the Rape Victims Are Minors

NBC News reported: “And perhaps most troubling, many of the sexual assaults on-board cruise ships involved minors. A congressional report (in 2013) found that minors were victims in a third of the assaults.” Cruise lines do not have to disclose when the victim is a child.

The CVSSA Is Concerned Only With Victims From the U.S.

The U.S. federal court has jurisdiction only when the assailant and/or victim is a U.S. national. There are few U.S. citizens working on cruise ships. Unless the victim is a U.S. national, the FBI will not investigate the crime. The FBI will not investigate when a foreign (i.e., non-U.S. citizens) crew member rapes another non-U.S. crew member. The DOJ will not prosecute crimes involving victims who are not from the U.S.

Cruise lines, FBI, and DOT Have Made a Mockery of the Goal of Transparency

Thirteen years ago, the U.S. Congress enacted the CVSSA with the laudable goals of educating the traveling public and making them aware of the substantial risks of sexual violence on certain cruise ships.

The FBI has demonstrated little true interest in investigating crimes on cruise ships. The Department of Justice prosecutes only a small minority of the crimes alleged on cruise ships. The DOT has no real interest in the issue of crime and is, at best, a federal agency tasked only with the administrative duty (and thankless task) of posting the crime data provided by an industry which does not want the truth disclosed in the first place. It’s a recipe for a continued lack of transparency.

The result is the public is now being kept in the dark again.

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September 13, 2023 Update:

It seems impossible to communicate with the DOT regarding this issue. Emails sent to an email address, listed on the DOT’s crime incident report website, are returned as “undeliverable.” When you speak to a representative, they claim there is no email address.

October 6, 2023 Update: Business Insider addressed this issue today in an article titled The US government is required to publish reports of criminal activity on cruise ships every quarter. They haven’t all year.

October 23, 2023 Update:

A passenger was reported missing from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday following a three-day cruise from Miami.

Several local and national news outlets reported that twenty-six year old Kevin McGrath, who was apparently traveling with his family, did not disembark from the Carnival Conquest when it arrived back at the Port of Miami early yesterday morning.

Some local news stations reported that Mr. McGrath was last seen on the cruise ship around 2:00 a.m. when the ship was returning to port in Miami. The Miami Herald reported that “police say McGrath’s brother saw him in cabin No. 1326 around 2 a.m. Monday, six hours before the Conquest’s three-day cruise was scheduled to end at PortMiami.” A Miami-Dade police detective told the Miami Herald that “he was supposed to meet the family for breakfast prior to disembarking from the ship but he never arrived as scheduled/planned.”

But several other outlets reported that Mr. McGrath was last seen by his brother at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of his disappearance. “A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line told Fox News Digital that the passenger’s cabin mate last saw the man at 7:00 a.m., which is around the time that debarkation was beginning.”

The ship’s CCTV did not indicate anyone falling overboard during the cruise nor did the shipboard cameras provide an explanation where Mr. McGrath may have gone. Carnival claims that it conducted a complete search of the ship. Like all other Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Conquest is not equipped with an automatic man overboard (MOB) system which would have instantly reported someone going over the railing, recorded the event, and then tracked the overboard passenger in the water..

The Miami-Dade Police Department made a public request for information about Mr. McGrath’s disappearance. It listed the location of the missing passenger as the Port of Miami.

Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search by helicopter in the waters around the Port of Miami according to multiple sources.

In this age of affordable and readily available high technology (including state of the art MOB systems), it’s embarrassing that this cruise line is asking for the local police department to issue missing person flyers to try and locate a missing cruise passenger.

This is the 393rd person to go overboard or otherwise disappear from a cruise ship since 1995, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.

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Carnival ConquestNorman Einstein CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Kevin McGrath – Miami-Dade County POlice Department.

A “man overboard” situation took place yesterday evening on the Wonder of the Seas as it was sailing to Mexico.

A man apparently went overboard at some time shortly after 8:00 p.m. when the Wonder of the Seas was sailing south of Cuba. I received a message at 8:47 p.m. last night from a woman on the cruise, stating that she heard an “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” announcement over the ship’s PA system 31 minutes earlier.

Cruise Radio’s Doug Parker was one of the first bloggers to report on the situation. He reported that a passenger who goes my the name “Cabana Girl” posted on the Cruise Critic message board:

  • “Heard an Oscar Oscar Oscar Port on Wonder of the Seas during dinner this evening. A crewmember told us it was a child. Don’t know if this is true but there are spotlights and a boat down searching. Very sad if this true.”

Another passengers posted on the Cruise critic message board that the captain made an announcement of the man overboard around 8:00 p.m. yesterday evening. Others commented that a rescue boat had been deployed to search for the man in the water. Due to Hurricane Idalia, the Royal Caribbean ship had already modified its original Western Caribbean itinerary. An unrelated medical emergency cut short the search (after only around two and one-half hours) for the overboard man as the Wonder of the Seas decided to sail the ill or injured passenger to the Cayman Islands.

  • “I am on board the Wonder of the Seas now. The Captain announced that there was a man overboard about 8pm CT tonight Tues 8-29. I started video taping the small boat that was searching for the person and I searched with my camera from my balcony for about an hour with no luck. Our ship already had to change course because we were headed right into the hurricane so we are missing Honduras as a result of Hurricane Idelia and so we had to come around the bottom of Cuba. We were stopped for about two and a half hours looking for the overboard person when another emergency happened on board and now we are headed as fast as possible to Grand Cayman which was not one of our stops.”

A family member (a sister who was not on the cruise) of a nineteen year-old passenger posted pleas on social media for the search to continue for her brother, who she identified as Sigmund Ropich of Paris, Texas.

Unfortunately, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has indicated that it is not involved in the search. No explanation why the USCG declined to become involved was provided. According to Orlando Local News-6:

“When News 6 reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said they are not involved in the incident and that the Cuban Border Guard is the lead on the case.”

Royal Caribbean also told News-6 that it allegedly “is working closely with local authorities.” It is less than clear what Royal Caribbean means by this standard statement. I have never heard of Royal Caribbean or any other cruise line working with Cuba to locate a cruise guest missing from a U.S. based cruise ship. It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that Cuba will devote any of its limited Coast Guard resources to search for a U.S. cruise passenger. It’s unknown whether the Cuban Coast Guard, known as “Tropas Guardafronteras,” has access to any C-130 type of aircraft to conduct search at sea.

Shown is the AIS chart of the Wonder of the Seas showing the slight change of course when it conducted a brief search for less than three hours. (Image credit: CruiseMapper)
Close up of AIS chart.

It seems outrageous if it is true that the crew of the Wonder of the Seas searched for less than three hours and then left their guest in the water at night, knowing that the USCG would not be dispatching cutters and helicopters to continue search and rescue operations.

In November of last year, a passenger was rescued after he fell from the Carnival Valor and treaded water for over twenty (20) hours.

In June of 2018, a crew member on the Norwegian Getaway fell overboard in the sea north of Cuba  and was rescued by a passing Carnival ship (Carnival Glory) 22 hours later (Read: How often do people fall overboard on cruise ships? by Rosie Spinks in Quartz).

In August 2018, a heavily intoxicated 46 year-old guest fell from the Norwegian Star and was eventually rescued, around 35 hours later, by the Croatian Coast Guard after the NCL cruise ship abandoned the passenger and returned to its home port.

In these two overboard cases from NCL cruise ships, the crew member and guest were eventually successfully rescued notwithstanding the fact that NCL abandoned them both.

Even though Royal Caribbean touted the Wonder of the Seas as the largest cruise ship in the world, the cruise line decided not to install an automatic man overboard (MOB) system, which are required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). State of the art MOB systems utilize motion detection, radar and infrared technologies to instantly send an image to the bridge officers that a person has gone over the rails and can then detect and track the person in the water even at night. The chances of a successful search and rescue are greatly increased.

Royal Caribbean is one of many cruise companies which has decided not to install this life-saving system, citing a range of excuses which we have discussed in prior articles.

Hannah Towney of Business Insider recently wrote an interesting article regarding the CVSSA and why the USCG doesn’t check cruise ships for man-overboard technology that has been legally required for over 10 years: 4 people have gone overboard on cruise ships this summer. Here’s why most cruise lines don’t use technology that could’ve helped save them. My response is here.

There have been 392 persons overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 1995, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein. The vast majority of cruise passengers lost at sea occured after Congress enacted the CVSSA.

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Image credit: Wonder of the Seas – By Daniel Capilla, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; AIS images of itinerary – CruiseMapper; Sigmund Ropich – Savannah Ropich Facebook.

 A U.S. Border Protection agent arrested a cruise passenger who sailed on the Scarlet Lady for possession of child pornography on Wednesday at Virgin Voyages’ terminal at the Port of Miami.

Michael Fanning, age 47, of Atlanta was arrested when authorities reportedly discovered multiple videos depicting child pornography on his phone, according to multiple news sources.

Federal agents searched Fanning’s phone and found three videos showing child pornography, according to local NBC-6 in Miami. A further search reportedly revealed two additional porn videos

“Fanning spoke with investigators and said he had numerous videos saved on his phone in a folder named ‘Y’ and said the ‘folder was used to categorize the pornography as young,’ the report said.”

WIOD-610 Radio in Miami reported that “the content of the discovered videos included scenes involving the rape of boys as young as 8 years old.”

We report routinely when cruise passengers or crew members are caught with pornography, and when guests are sexually assaulted during cruises.

One-third of the sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships involve minors. This firm continue to report on such cases which are consistent with the testimony of a senior FBI official before Congress and investigations by major national news outlets. See: Sex Assault Victims on Cruise Ships Are Often Under 18.

In March, we reported on the disturbing criminal cases of an assistant cruise director and guest activities officer employed by Princess Cruises who were involved in creating and distributing graphically violent child pronography iamges while on a Princess cruise ship.

To date, Princess Cruises have avoided any mention of these crimes involving a minor who sailed with her parents on a Princess cruise ship.

In June, we reported that a cruise ship employee, who describes himself as a music director of Royal Caribbean, was jailed in Australia for obtaining and accessing child abuse photographs and videos.

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Image credit: Scarlett Lady – Virgin Voyages; Michael Fanning – Miami-Dade Police Department via NBC-6.

Last Friday morning, a cruise ship carrying over 3,000 passengers reported to the local police department in Hilo, Hawaii that it was missing a guest as it sailed toward that port. The police department in Hilo received the call at 8:40 a.m. on Friday, stating that 59 year old Kenneth Schwalbe had not been seen on the ship since 8:30 p.m. the previous evening. The cruise ship had spent time searching for passenger Schwalbe on the ship after he had not been seen since the previous evening. A detective from the Hilo police department met the cruise ship at the port on Friday morning and reviewed closed circuit surveillance video from a camera on deck 9 which showed, at 4:18 a.m. on Friday, Mr. Schwalbe falling from the ship.

There is no information regarding the circumstances surrounding his situation before he went overboard.

The local news reports failed to mention the name of the cruise ship, which we later determined to be the Emerald Princess, as AIS systems indicate that it was the only cruise ship calling on Hilo on August 11th.

The United States Coast Guard was eventually notified despite the fact that there was a delay of over 4 hours from when the cruise guest fell from the cruise ship. Because the cruise ship was a Carnival-owned vessel operated by Princess Cruises, it lacked an automated man-overboard system (“MOB”) which would have immediately alerted the bridge that a person went over the rails (via a motion detection apparatus) and then track the person in the water using infrared and radar technologies.

MOB systems would have promptly alerted the navigational officer that an emergency situation was developing and would have permitted a fast search for the overboard person in the water. Without such a system which is required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010, the cruise ship would have first conducted a laborious search for the missing guest on the cruise ship and then a frame-by-frame review of available CCTV images. All the while, the cruise ship would continue on its path to the next port as the chances for a successful rescue diminished by the minute.

When we first reported on this sad case, we received the usual comments by some readers that “you can’t fall from a cruise ship.” These types of comments usually reflect an effort to cast blame on the missing passenger and suggest that the person went overboard intentionally. Cruise lines often comment when their after-the-fact review of CCTV shows someone jumping into the sea. So the fact that the initial report of the overboard is that the CCTV shows him falling (i.s., not jumping) is not insignificant.

Yes, there are some people who decide to end their lives at sea, mostly crew members who become depressed after working long eight month contracts away from their families. But the vast majority of passengers who go overboard are grossly intoxicated. (There is insufficient information regarding this particular case). When the cruise ship eventually reviews CCTV images, the film often shows the person leaning over the railing to vomit before he or she falls overboard. There is usually a delay of several hours before traveling companions observe the person is no longer in their cabin. There is further delay while the ship wastes time searching on the ship while the overboard passenger treads water. Often, like this case, the cruise ship has already arrived at the next port before the ship finally confirms that the person went into the ocean.

One of the first things that the cruise ship security officers do after a passenger goes overboard is to print out and review the passenger’s onboard purchases, which show when the guest purchases alcohol in the ship’s bars and restaurants.The print-out shows exactly when and where the drink was purchased. There is a direct correlation between alcohol sales and guests going overboard. The most booze consumed by a guest who later went overboard was when Royal Caribbean sold 22 drinks to a 21 year old passenger who fell from the Oasis of the Seas in January 2015. Like Carnival Corporation-owned cruise ships, Royal Caribbean has not installed any auto MOB systems in its fleet of ships.

When the young man stumbled out of a ship bar on the Oasis of the Seas after drinking nearly two-dozen drinks in just four hours, he somehow ended up climbing onto a lifeboat where he passed out, only to fall off the lifeboat early in the morning as the Oasis approached Cozumel. Several hours later, the Disney Dream, which was sailing the same route to the Mexican port, observed the young man in the water and miraculously rescued him. (Kudos to the Disney watch keepers on the Disney Dream!)

Coincidentally, only Disney Cruises (and one MSC cruise ship, the MSC Meraviglia) have installed auto-MOB systems in compliance with the CVSSA

There have been 391 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships and ferries in the last 25 years, per cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein. 238 people have gone overboard since the CVSSA went into effect,

Carnival Corporation-owned ships like the Princess Emerald violate U.S. law every time they depart from a U.S. port without the required life-saving MOB system installed. Many cruise fans don’t seem to care, mindlessly arguing that “it’s impossible to fall off a cruise ship.”

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Image credit: By kees torn – flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 commons / wikimedia.