A number of cruise passengers on the Adventure of the Seas inform Cruise Law News that the captain announced to the cruise ship yesterday that a crew member disappeared from the ship.

The Adventure of the Seas was in Cozumel when the captain made an announcement that an unidentified crew member could not be accounted for and was missing from the cruise ship.  The crew member did not appear at his work station and the remainder of the crew was unable to locate him.

The fact that a crew member could “disappear” without a trace from the cruise ship indicates that Royal Caribbean has still not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system on this ship. Auto-MOB systems like this or this can detect a person going over the rails and send a signal to the bridge so that the ship can immediately search and try to rescue the person. Such systems consist of state-of-the-art motion detection sensors, thermal imaging and radar technology.

As matters now stand, when a crew member (or passenger) goes over the railing, unless an eye-witness observes the person going overboard and promptly reports it to the bridge, the ship will sail on, usually at night, without anyone knowing that a person is missing from the ship. It is not until some time after the crew member fails to show up to work that the ship will make any effort to search for the person.

Usually, the crew will search on the ship for the missing crew member and the staff captain or security chief will eventually look through any CCTV images to search for any clues whether the crew member jumped overboard.  (The vast majority of crew members who disappear at sea do so intentionally; whereas, most passengers go overboard due to gross over-intoxication).

This leads to extraordinary delays in the ship’s search and rescue efforts.  For example, in Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas, we explained that when a crew member jumped overboard early in the morning (around 5:15 a.m.), the absence of an auto-MOB caused a series of unreasonable delays in searching for the employee.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

The flag state (usually the Bahamas) usually does not even investigate when Royal Caribbean reports that a crew member has gone overboard.

The passengers who informed us that a crew member is missing from the ship in this latest case mentioned that the captain announced that a “care team” would apparently be arriving on the ship, although it is less than clear whether this was for the crew’s welfare or the guests’ benefit.

Royal Caribbean’s failure to install the proven life-saving auto-MOB technology reflects an callous indifference toward hard working crew members.

We suggest reading:

Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

Misery Machines and Crew Member Suicides.

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

November 24, 2018 a.m. update:

Crew members are identifying the crew members as a 26 year old male entertainment staff member from the United Kingdom.

A crew member who worked with him a few months ago on Allure of the Seas stated that his manager reported that he was exhibiting signs of depression to shipboard HR. He went to the ship doctor on one occasion, a teleconference was reportedly arranged for him with a counselor, and he was required to continue his contract.

One crew member who does wish to be identified stated “Royal Caribbean does not care one bit for the safety or welfare of the crew . . . about 24 hours of the crew member going missing, the company had already contacted another employee to replace him (someone who is a close friend of the missing person)! Apparently there is no CCTV footage of him going overboard but instead of focusing on investigating what happened and supporting his family, friends and team mates, their priority is to find a replacement.”

November 24, 2018 p.m. update: Below is a YouTube video by Don’s Family Vacations which discusses the need of automatic man overboard technology. He recommends to cruise passengers that they fill out comment cards recommending that cruise lines implement the technology, particularly given the billions of dollars that the industry is spending on new cruise ships and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the refurbishment of ships.

 

November 24, 2018 p.m. update”Photo credit: Top – Brian Burnell – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Middle and bottom – Images from Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas via Bahamian Maritime Authority.

Royal Caribbean Adventure of the SeasLast Wednesday, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas canceled two port calls after the ship’s cruise ship’ “fixipod” propulsion unit device lost oil as the ship headed to port in St. Kitts.

Royal Caribbean says that it placed oil booms around the ship to contain the leaking oil, and its engineers began addressing the problem.

Since then, cruise passengers and family members ashore have expressed concern with what happening with the ship and whether there will be a delay or changes in the itinerary of the cruise which leaves today.

Their concerns intensified after the cruise ship lost all propulsion last night.

There have been on line discussions whether the “fixipod” will be repaired before the ship goes into dry dock on March 30th. The ship has limped back to San Juan at very low speed this morning. It looks like there have been additional issues which slowed the ship down further. At this point it looks like today’s cruise may going forward (still anyone’s guess) but it’s less than clear how much of a delay there will be in boarding and/or sailing.

As usual, the discussion seem to be only when the ship will sail, not whether it’s safe to cruise on a ship with 5 – 6 days of propulsion problems.

Cruise Critic members have expressed frustration over what they perceive as a lack of communication by Royal Caribbean. One member posted:

“They’ve posted NOTHING on the agent site, consumer site, their FB page, nor either the Public Relations nor regular twitter feeds, and I’ve asked!

And, no one knows diddly when you call….”

Fixipod Azipod On March 21, Royal Caribbean posted this one tweet:

“Adventure is sailing a modified itinerary due to a delayed departure from St. Kitts for required work on the ship’s fixipod.”

But nothing since then. It’s surprising that a multi-billion dollar corporation which spends literally hundreds of millions a year in a big marketing campaign can’t figure out how to utilize Twitter and Facebook (both are free) to communicate with their guests and the public.

I have not heard anything about whether the cruise line intends to compensate the passengers for the missed ports of call. Anyone know?

If you were on the cruise, please leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook. If you have photos or a video of the tugs bringing the ship into port in San Juan, please send us a copy!

March 24, 2014 Update: This is the most inept PR handling of a cruise problem I have ever seen. Read about Royal PR #FAIL: Royal Caribbean Keeps Adventure & Navigator Passengers in the Dark.

 

Photo Credit:

Top: CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

Bottom: Kvaerner Masa (image of Voyager of the Seas)

Plancius Cruise Ship - Antarctica Adventure CruiseThis was not the type of adventure the cruise passengers were looking for,

A cruise ship operated by an "adventure" travel operator was stranded in the South Atlantic on April 9th. The cruise ship experienced what is being described as either an engine failure or "propulsion difficulties" which reduced its speed to a capacity less than 5 knots in calm weather.  

The M/V Plancius, is operated by a Netherlands -based adventure cruise company, Oceanwide Expeditions, which advertises itself as the "World’s Leading Polar Expedition Operator."  The cruise ship departed from Ushusia in Southern Argentina and was sailing on a 32 day itinerary which involved visiting islands in the South Atlantic / Antarctica region and ending up in the Ascension Islands.  You can read a nice article about this type of cruising here

The cruise ship is now alongside the Kind Edward Point Research facility on the South Georgia island. It was carrying 73 passengers and 42 crew members, including the expedition team.  The cruise line issued a press release, which is below, which states that the passengers and crew are uninjured and safe.  There are no indications of the weather conditions which existed when the ship lost most of its power, other than the statement that the weather is unpredictable given the approaching winter period.

A number of cruise ships have recently experienced serious engine and propulsion issues.  The Azamara Quest lost power in an engine room fire last month as it sailed from the Philippines.  The Costa Allegra found itself adrift off the coast of South East Africa in February after an engine room fire. The Bahamas Celebration lost all power sailing to the Bahamas last October in a similar incident.  The best known recent power failure occurred in November 2010 and involved the Carnival Splendor which Clelia II - Expedition Cruise Ship - Antarcticalost all propulsion with 3,500 passengers aboard while off of Mexico.  The U.S.had to send an aircraft carrier to the scene while the cruise ship was eventually towed to port in San Diego.

Power failures to small "adventure" cruise ships present particular dangers to the cruise passengers and crew.  The waters in the South Atlantic are treacherous.   The Clelia II (photo right) caught the world’s attention in December 2010 which it lost most of its power after a wave smashed windows and disabled its communications system and impaired its propulsion while it was trying to return to Argentina from Antarctica. The video of the little expedition ship bouncing helplessly on high waves into howling winds is a must see.  It made my list of the Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos

The Clelia II had previously been disabled in December 2009 when it ran into rocks in Antarctica with 100 passengers aboard, and had to be taken out of service.

The most serious incident involved the Explorer expedition cruise ship which sank in 2007 after it scrapped its hull and sank in frigid water in Antarctica.  Fortunately, the weather conditions were calm and all passengers and crew were rescued. 

If you have photographs or video of the Plancius, please consider leaving a comment below.     

 

Cruise Operator Press Statement:

"Reduced propulsion power of m/v Plancius interrupts Atlantic Odyssey voyage. All passengers and crew are safe and sound. The Atlantic Odyssey voyage onboard m/v Plancius is interrupted since 09 April 2012 due to the vessel experiencing an incapacitation caused by mechanical dysfunction of the main propulsion system causing a reduced propulsion power. The ship is sheltered in safe position resting alongside the jetty of King Edward Point Research Station in Grytviken/Cumberland East Bay/South Georgia (54°17′S, 36°30′W).

Passengers, crew and expedition staff are safe. There is no threat to life or the environment
The spirit on board is – given the circumstances – good and passengers indulge in local walks and excursion program organized by expedition staff.

Oceanwide Expeditions takes precautions in the sake of passenger safety. As a result of the propulsion failure the ship has only very limited sailing capabilities ( maximum 4-5 knots in calm conditions), which means the vessel will not be able maintain course in rough seas of the open ocean. The original ship ´s voyage was aimed at crossing the Atlantic (embarkation of passengers took place in Ushuaia on 29 March, disembarkation of passengers was planned at Praia/Cape Verdes on 05 May). The weather forecast is unpredictable due to approaching winter period. Oceanwide Expeditions decided to take precautions and cancel the crossing of the Atlantic based on mission to operate safe and environmentally responsible travel. It is planned that all 73 passengers, some crew members (from 35 nautical and hotel), 6 expedition staff and 1 medical doctor will be repatriated onboard chartered passenger vessel m/v Ushuaia which will sail to Grytviken, South Geogia from Mar del Plata, Argentina, departing on Friday 13 April at 12.00 hours, arriving in South Georgia on 18 April, approx 12.00 hours local time. It is expected that the vessel can depart from South Georgia the same day with all passengers, including expedition and hotel staff. The vessel is scheduled to arrive in Montevideo, Uruguay on 24 April for disembarkation and connecting travel arrangements .

Next-of-kin of passengers have been informed directly or via their booking agents by Oceanwide Expeditions. M/v Plancius will have to be towed with support of a tug boat from South Georgia if onboard repairs are not possible locally. IAATO ( International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators), Class (Lloyds register) , flag state (The Netherlands), South Georgia Government and National Authority in the Netherlands have received status reports respectively."