Yesterday, a man from Topeka, Kansas was arraigned in United States District Court on charges of murdering his wife during a Carnival cruise earlier this year.

On January 19, 2018, a passenger on the Carnival Elation sent us photographs of the couple’s cabin and the area where the woman fell to her death. You can see the photographs here.

The woman reportedly died after she fell from her balcony on the 14th deck down to the 11th deck on the Carnival cruise ship which has sailed from Jacksonville to Freeport, in the Bahamas.

In our article at the time, we mentioned that a passenger reportedly was seen handcuffed after the incident. Police from Freeport boarded the cruise ship after the fatality.

The U.S. Department of Justice identified  Eric Newman, age 53, of Topeka, Kansas and charged him with murdering his wife,  Tamara Tucker, age 50, of Lawson, Missouri (photo below). The DOJ press release does not mention any details regarding the murder (I have not yet reviewed the on line court file).

The last domestic murder case on a cruise ship occurred on the Emerald Princess last summer.  The United States District Court for the District of Alaska recently announced that the case against Kenneth Manzanares will go on trial in May of next year.

The last murder of a passenger on this particular Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Elation, occurred in 2011 when a drunken passenger killed his wife during a cruise to Mexico.  We have written about other cruise ship murders (typically of women) during cruises in the past.

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September 10, 2018 Update: The U.S. government filed a “sealed” indictment against Eric Newman, which mean that the usual FBI affidavits and/or other information will not be revealed to the public at this time.  The court records indicate that Mr. Newman is accused of murdering Tamara Tucker with “malice aforethought.” Ms. Tucker has been described in new accounts as Mr. Newman’s long term girlfriend.

September 18, 2018 Update: Mr. Newman is free on bond after a detention hearing in Federal Court today. A spokesman for the federal government says Newman is free on a $50,000 bond, and under house arrest pending what could be months before a trial, according to KSNT.com.

Carnival Elation (top) – anonymous; Eric and Tamara Newman (in happier times)(above) – Facebook.

On Friday, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter medevaced a a pregnant woman from a Carnival cruise ship

The medevac took place on August 31, 2018 from the Carnival Glory when the cruise ship was approximately 110 miles southwest of Key West.

The passenger was transferred ashore to emergency medical services who then transported her to Lower Keys Medical Center.

The video is available here.

Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard District 7 via Defense Visual Infromation Distribution Services (DVIDS)

Royal Caribbean is reportedly outsourcing the majority of the employees in its call center in Springfield, Oregon (near Eugene) to Jamaica and Guatemala. Over 700 positions in the Springfield office will apparently be gone by the end of 2019. Employees say that they were forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) prohibiting them from talking about the company’s decision. As one employee who wishes to remain anonymous recently told me, “it’s pretty sad there right now.”

Royal Caribbean has operated a call center in the town of Springfield, Oregon since 2006 in a customized office which is designed to look like a cruise ship (see article below). As of 2014, Royal Caribbean employed over 700 people and had plans to hire over 200 others there.

Several current employees in Springfield contacted me to discuss the company’s plans. They state that Royal Caribbean plans to outsource 85-90% of its jobs in Springfield to Guatemala and Jamaica. This leaves around 700 U.S. employees without jobs, and the cruise line is not offering severance pay or assistance to most of the employees. All of the employees wish to remain anonymous out of fear that the company will retaliate against them.

The only teams which, reportedly, are being offered to remain employed are “sales” and “outbound sales.” However,  long term sales agents are not being provided with leads anymore and the cruise line is already outsourcing calls to agents in Guatemala. 

One employee told me that “when guests have a issue with their booking and want to speak with a supervisor (escalating to the resolutions department), they will now speak to someone overseas. It seems like for now Royal Caribbean wants their sales agents in the USA to hook the customer  and introduce them to the product, but when they call back with an issue they will be routed overseas.” She added “good luck getting a refund . . . ” 

Several years ago, Travel Weekly reported that Royal Caribbean’s UK and Ireland managing director reassured agents about the planned outsourcing of the cruise line’s UK call center to Guatemala. He told Travel Weekly at the time that Royal Caribbean was busy training the new Guatemalan call center staff and he would soon visit the Central American center.

Royal Caribbean is obviously not the first cruise line to outsource services from the U.S. Two year ago, Carnival eliminated 200 positions from its IT departments across its brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises. Carnival received wide spread criticism when it was revealed that Carnival employees were required to train the “foreign” replacements.

Over the years, there have been several incidents involving mass lay-offs from Royal Caribbean, dating back many years ago with 500 employees losing their jobs, with the last one in 2013 involving around 100 people let go.

As I mentioned before, this appears to be an inevitable part of the “globalization” of the cruise industry. Money saved by the cruise executives in Miami, yes, but at the expense of terminating loyal U.S employees. Not to mention running the risk of demoralizing the remaining staff while offering substandard services.

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August 30, 2018 Update:

According to KVAL TV in Eugene, “some of the Springfield employees were used to train workers in Jamaica in April ‘only to realize now that they trained their own replacements.’ The sources have asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions at work.”

KVAL TV article “Absolutely Heartbroken;” Employee at Royal Caribbean in Springfield Speaks Out.

Royal Caribbean responds by saying that there are allegedly no layoffs currently planned but plans to “reassign some of the jobs to other areas.” The employees in Springfield will be “reduced through attrition.” A KVAL reporter reported that the cruise line would not provide a time table for the changes and “declined to say where those jobs would be located, and said officials have not decided how many jobs would be moved.”

Interested in this issue? Please read:

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean’s U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

Loyal to Royal” Royal Caribbean Axes 100 Jobs in Corporate Headquarters

Photo credit: Jim Walker

Princess Cruises’ Star Princess cruise ship recently discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan, as originally reported by  KRBD Community Radio. KRBD also reports that the city received complaints by the public of an earlier similar discharge from the Golden Princess while in Ketchikan.

As shown by photographs (above and on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan), the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship were berthed.  According to communications between administrators in the city of Ketchikan, a local Alaskan resident reportedly voiced her serious concerns over cruise ship discharges in port were in port and the resulting fouling of beaches.

The city of Ketchikan concluded that the recent incidents of discharges appeared to be from cruise ship exhaust gas scrubbers and not from wastewater. The city identified several photographs of discharges observed by local port personnel coming from the Star Princess on July 23, 2018 while the cruise ship was at berth no. 4 in Ketchikan.  The city notified the ship which turned off its exhaust gas scrubber system.

The city of Ketchikan notified the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) which reportedly are both investigating the incidents.

Scrubber systems are increasingly being used on cruise ships in order to reduce sulfur particles and engine exhaust particulates.  Petroleum-based. non-combustible particulate matter accumulates as sludge, during the water-scrubbing process, and must eventually be removed from the ships. Many cruise ships simply discharge the sludge into the water, while they are underway or even at port, rather than properly disposing the sludge in facilities ashore.

According to the Ports and Harbors personnel in Ketchikan and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), such untreated discharges are not permitted by state water quality standards within Alaska’s local waters, although they apparently are permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cruise lines claim that they exceed all applicable local, state, national and international environmental regulations. But this does not appear to be true. A representative of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) recently argued that the cruise industry would never dump the sludge overboard, irrespective of  whether regulations permit such discharges, where the particulate matter and sulfur sludge obviously would pollute the water and foul the local beaches.

According to data prepared by the ADEC, as many as 23 large cruise ships (with anywhere from one to four scrubbers systems each) are calling on ports in Alaska in 2018. There is concern of widespread discharges of sludge into the Alaskan ports. Other ports in locations outside of Alaska, where low-sulfur fuel is required, will also likely see cruise ships discharging scrubber sludge at sea and in local waters.

The Star Princess and Caribbean Princess were two of several Princess cruise ships implicated in Princess’ widespread and long term discharge of oily substances over a period of nearly a decade. The Caribbean Princess secretly used an illegal “magic pipe” to bypass pollution control devices and discharge oily substances directly into the water, rather than properly offload the waste in port.

The Star Princess used illegal practices such as opening a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge.  The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were truthfully recorded in the ship’s oil record book as required by law. All of this was designed to save the cruise line money.

As we explained in our article at the time titled Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000  the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) levied the largest fine in cruise line history against Princess and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, for polluting and lying about it to the Coast Guard. The DOJ indicated that a perceived motive for the environmental crimes was financial – “the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense.”

The DOJ stated that “Princess engineers on the Caribbean Princess indicated that the chief engineer responsible for the discharge on August 26, 2013, was known as “braccino corto” (a person with short arms), an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet. Some expressed the same opinion of the shore-side superintendent.”

As part of guilty plea agreement, Princess and Carnival promised not to commit further violation of either the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) or any state or local environmental laws. They further promised to comply with a Court approved Environmental Compliance Plan which required these cruise lines to strictly comply with all international, state and local environmental laws and regulations regarding water pollution.

Princess Cruises’ discharge of the toxic sludge of scrubber operations into the waters of Alaska seems to violate existing Alaskan water  regulations, according to the City of Ketchikan. In my opinion, Princess violated the terms and the spirit of the 2016 pollution plea agreement in the process. Princess will continue to violate the agreement and the compliance plan every time it discharges the sludge at sea or in port.

Photographs of the nasty sludge dumped at the port while the Star Princess was at berth in Ketchikan makes a mockery of Princess’ promise to be a good steward of the marine environment.

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Photo credit: Scrubber sludge – Star Princess – City of Ketchikan.

August 28, 2018 Update: Travel Weekly covers the story with No Clear Solution for Disposing of Sludge Produced By Scrubbers, in which Princess claims that “our experts believe what was viewed and photographed is most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.” Travel Weekly reports that cruise ship scrubbers on cruises to Alaska “produce a surprising amount of waste: An average seven-day cruise on a big ship can yield two to five tons of scrubber sludge, said Brian Salerno, senior vice president for maritime policy at CLIA.”

Rowan Moore, a journalist for The Guardian newspaper in London, used the words “misery machines” in describing giant cruise ships in an opinion piece last Sunday. He writes:

Giant cruise ships look to me like misery machines. They don’t make residents happy in the places they visit. They don’t make their crews happy, if you are to believe the recurring allegations of mistreatment of staff . . .”

I posted the article on Facebook and Twitter. The push back from cruise passengers was instant. “Cruise lines enjoy 93+% customer satisfaction. That’s better than chocolate companies!!” posted a Facebook follower, echoing the common view of cruising from the perspective of cruise fans.

That’s the common reaction on social media whenever I write about the harsh employment conditions which crew members face on cruise ships. Many cruise passengers who read this blog could not care less.

Unfortunately, the same seems to be true when it comes to members of the U.S. Congress. If the problem does not involve a local constituent, most members of Congress will not give you the time of day. The nativist / anti-immigrant mentality promoted by the current administration has made it more difficult to defend the rights of “foreign” (i.e., non-U.S.) crew members who comprise the overwhelming majority of cruise ship employees.

I’ve attended hearings in Washington D.C. regarding the issue of cruise safety where the cruise industry has testified that that 95% of people who cruise have a positive experience. No doubt. Pampered by cabin attendants, waiters and bartenders, cruise guests enjoy the unrealistically inexpensive cruise fares offered by a cruise industry which pays no taxes and escapes U.S. wages and labor regulations by registering their businesses and ships in places like Liberia, Panama and the Bahamas.

As long as the cruise leaves and returns on time and doesn’t break down in between, most cruise guests are not concerned about what happens behind the scenes, whether it is overworked, underpaid and stressed-out crew members or sludge illegally dumped at sea.

No one cares to take a satisfaction survey of crew members.

Life on board a foreign flagged behemoth is no box of chocolates for the crew, despite the high guest satisfaction rating. The Guardian’s “misery machines” expression was the first thing I thought of earlier this week when I read the articles which several readers of this blog sent me about the death of a twenty-two year old Serbian man on the Carnival Fascination.

The man was described as a 22 year-old Serbian man named Nikola Arnautovic.

How unbelievably sad that a young man of only 22 years, just one year younger and one year older than my own two boys, would end his life at such an age.

But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that suicides of crew members are hardly rare.

A British chef was found hanging in his cabin aboard the Crystal Serenity cruise ship several years ago.  Two weeks earlier, a safety officer on the Disney Dream committed suicide in a similar manner. And the day before that, a woman in Carnival’s entertainment department was found hanging in an officer’s quarters on the Carnival Sensation.

The popular Crew Center website, which first indicated that the recent death on the Carnival Fascination involved a crew member, reported that an Indian dishwasher on the Costa Magica was found hanging in his cabin in February 2017. A galley worker also committed suicide a few years earlier on the Island Princess by hanging.  He reportedly died in the first month of his first contract on the Princess Cruises’ ship. The Crew Center reported that, according to some crew members, he committed suicide because of the “enormous stress and pressure by his supervisors.”

Of course, most crew members do not end their lives by hanging themselves. Most ship employees who choose to end their lives do so by jumping overboard.  During a period of less than three years between December 2009 and October 2012, at least twelve crew members jumped overboard or simply disappeared from cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises. I wrote about the problem in an article titled “Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?”  The grueling schedule and long hours crew members are required to work 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of a 6 to 10 month contract, for far less than the U.S. minimum wage, often leave ship employees, who are already isolated from their families, exhausted and demoralized.

In the past decade, many dozens of crew members have jumped into the sea. The common reaction by guests is pointlessly “you can’t fall from a cruise ship” as if casting blame on the dead crew member will somehow solve the problem.

Mental health services for cruise ship employees are non-existent. And the  emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S. Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community. Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the “foreign” crew members receive is more than the workers can receive back home. “If they don’t like the work, they can quit” is the common saying.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the “safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority,” there seems to be little genuine expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

In the last week, yet another crew member disappeared from another cruise ship. He was a Filipino, by the name of  Rezan Monteroso from the M/S Amsterdam. Mr. Monteroso had been aboard the Amsterdam for just 5 days when he went overboard, leaving behind a wife and family with young children.

There are no news articles anywhere mentioning Mr. Monterosa’s name (or the names of dozens of other crew members who have gone overboard before him), or explaining the circumstances surrounding his last days or hours.

Mr. Monterosa’s disappearance seems altogether too familiar – the ship had no automatic man overboard system and the notification to the Coast Guard and ensuing search were unreasonably delayed; there were no discussions about the need for mental health counselling or support from the cruise line following the soon-to-be-forgotten story; HAL reportedly shut off the feeds to the monitors on the ship when the ship finally realized that Ms. Monterosa went overboard, leaving the passengers in the dark as to what happened to the crew member; there seemed to be more guests asking about compensation for the “inconvenience” of a delayed arrival at the next port than any inquiry regarding why the Filipino employee went overboard in the first place. And no one seems to be making any efforts to even discuss making changes to reduce the likelihood of losing additional crew members at sea like this.

As matters now stand, crew members from around the world, from places like Serbia and the Philippines, have little support from the cruise industry and none from the U.S. government. It seems that when crew members jump overboard or hang themselves, the cruise lines couldn’t care less either, as long as it doesn’t affect their customer’s satisfaction rating.

Rest in Peace Mr. Monterosa and Mr. Arnautovic and prayers to your surviving families and friends.

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Photo credit: M/S Amsterdam – Crew Center

Today I awoke to the weird news that Carnival Cruise Line will re-name the nineteen-year old Carnival Triumph the Carnival Sunrise, after spending around $200 million on “new amenities including bars, restaurants, water slides, bigger suites, a comedy club and other attractions,” according to the Miami Herald.

The Herald explains that the Carnival Sunrise will join the Carnival “Sunshine Class” as a sister to the Carnival Sunshine, which was formerly the Carnival Destiny, which underwent a renovation in 2013 costing around $155 million.

The renovation of the Triumph into the Sunrise reportedly will begin on March 1st in Cadiz, Spain and take two months.

The amazing thing about the Miami Herald’s article was that it never mentioned the infamous “Poop Cruise,” a nickname which the media placed on the Tiumph  after its engine room caught fire, the cruise ship lost power in the Gulf of Mexico, and the ship had to be towed back to the United States.

Litigation against Carnival revealed that the cruise line grossly neglected the maintenance of the cruise ship. The lawsuits were predictably unsuccessful, however the damage to Carnival’s reputation was already done.

The Wikipedia article on the Carnival Triumph contains little other than a description of the fire, the disgusting conditions which the Carnival guests faced, and the highly publicized slow tow back from Mexican waters whch played out daily on cable news.

Carnival may rename the Triumph the Sunrise after it spends $200 million for renovations, but it will always be known as the “poop cruise” ship by those with a memory.

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Photo credit: Getty Images via the Daily Mail

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from a Carnival cruise ship sailing back to New York last night/earlier this morning.

An unidentified 66-year-old woman, who suffered a stroke aboard the Carnival Horizon, was rescued when the cruise ship was approximately 80 miles from Atlantic City.

The Coast Guard air station in Atlantic City dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter after the Carnival ship requested a medevac for the cruise guest.

The Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the woman and a nurse, employed by Carnival, off the ship and flew them to Atlantic City around 1 a.m. last night/early this morning.  The woman was then transported in an awaiting ambulance to a local hospital.  There is no available information regarding the current medical status of the guest.

Photo credit: Miami Herald. Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard District 5 PADET Baltimore via Defense Visual Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS). 

Turks and CaicosThe U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 89-year-old man suffering from a stroke from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday.

The Carnival Vista was heading from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, sailing around the north-eastern corner of Cuba, when the Carnival cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard for medical assistance. The Carnival ship had left Miami on Sunday and was sailing near the western waters of the lower Bahamian islands.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, the Carnival Vista contacted the Coast Guard which reportedly dispatched  a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Coast Guard station in Clearwater, Florida. The Carnival ship was approximately 138 miles west of Great Inagua, Bahamas.

The man, suffering from chest pains and accompanied by a nurse, was taken to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on the island of Providenciales in the western Turks and Caicos. He arrived around around 6:45 p.m. at the hospital. His medical condition is currently unknown.

Video credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) via U.S. Coast Guard District 7.

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Cruise Medevac Turks and Caicos

According to WRLN in Miami, FEMA grossly overpaid Carnival Cruise Line to charter the Carnival Fascination to provide housing for FEMA workers following Hurricane Maria. 

According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Daniel Rivero, WLRN states that FEMA agreed to pay Carnival $74,700,000 to provide accommodations aboard the Carnival Fascination to house federal aid workers and first responders in St. Croix.  

As WLRN explains, the FEMA-Carnival contract provides that the cruise line agreed to house 2,056 FEMA workers for the length of the four month contract. The average number of nightly passengers for the contract period was around 800 which, given the contract price, turns out to be $834 per person Carnival Fascinationper night, paid by U.S. taxpayers. That’s a staggering rate or well over over $5,000 per week per passenger. 

WLRN calculated the market rate for a cruise on the Carnival Fascination between $370 and $1,200 per person per week, which is a fraction of the rate paid by FEMA. 

I also obtained a copy of the FEMA-Carnival charter agreement pursuant to a FOIA request earlier this year. It revealed that FEMA agreed to pay what turns out to be $18,675,000 a month for the Fascination

This exorbitant amount of taxpayer money is even higher than what FEMA paid Carnival in 2005, to charter three Carnival cruise ships following Hurricane Katrina. FEMA agreed to pay Carnival an average of only $13,111,111 a month (for a total of $192,000,000) to charter the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival’s Holiday for 6 months (plus $44,000,000 for fuel and other expenses) following hurricane Katrina.

Plus, as I pointed out in the article FEMA Agreed to Pay Carnival $74,700,000 for Charter of Carnival Fascination, Carnival didn’t pay any federal taxes on this income. 

In the WLRN article, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein pointed out that Carnival is registered in Panama and pays almost no U.S. income taxes which he believes is a larger concern for how the contract was handled.

“The US Government hired a foreign registered corporation that uses foreign registered vessels with foreign workers (working in the US but not paying US income tax). And because the corporation is offshore, and the ship is offshore, the company pays virtually no income tax on the contract. Now that is a sweet deal,” Professor Klein told WLRN.

What is even more disturbing is that, as WRLN points out, FEMA first (over) paid Carnival even before it disbursed funds to the survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands hit by the hurricane. Numerous media sources are also now reporting that the death toll in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria was drastically underestimated. The consensus is that that the actual number of deaths was around 5,000 citizens, compared to official estimates of less than 100.   

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

In a press release, the the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it suspended its search and rescue efforts for a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Paradise on May 22, 2018. The Coast Guard stated that it ended its search on the following day at approximately 9 P.M. (May 23, 2018), which is approximately 35 hours after Carnival notified it (at 10:00 A.M. on May 22nd) that a passenger was missing from the cruise ship. (The Coast Guard’s press release erroneously states that it searched for 55 hours).

The Coast Guard indicated that its search covered a vast grid, consisting of over 3,000 square miles. 

The Coast Guard reportedly deployed a "C-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew from Air Station Miami, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, homeported in Key West." 

The huge search grid and the deployment of a helicopter, two aircraft and a cutter to search over 3,000 square Carnival Paradise Man Overboardmiles were necessary due to Carnival’s apparent delay in notifying the Coast Guard of the missing passenger, who was subsequently identified as Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina. 

According to the press release, Coast Guard watchstanders in Key West received a call via marine band radio at approximately 10 A.M. on May 22nd from the cruise ship stating the passenger was missing and reportedly went overboard.

Based on the information received from Carnival, the Coast Guard stated that Mr. Lamonds went overboard "about 85 miles west of Fort Myers." This suggests that Mr. Lamonds probably went overboard early in the morning hours of May 22nd after the ship left Tampa late on the afternoon of May 21st.  Obviously the man overboard did not occur off the coast of Fort Meyers at 10:00 A.M. Fort Meyers is around 125 nautical miles north of Key West, which is around 6 to 8 hours away from Key West given an approximate vessel speed of 15 to 20 knots. If Carnival didn’t notify the Coast Guard until 10:00 A.M., an hour from its scheduled arrival at 11:00 A.M., the cruise ship was probably just 15 or 20 nautical miles north of Key West at this point. The cruise ship had sailed for many hours since Mr. Lamonds went overboard. 

A passenger tweeted as of 10:01 A.M. on May 22nd "On the #CarnivalParadise … they are now doing room to room searches for a passenger. Praying he’s passed out in a room." She later tweeted that the 11:00 A.M. disembarkation was delayed for at least 45 minutes.  So if this information is correct, it appears that Carnival was searching on the ship for him when it requested the Coast Guard to begin its search at 10:00 A.M.

The most likely scenario is that the Carnival Paradise is not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would send a signal and sound an alarm in the bridge as soon as someone went over the rails of the ship. At that point, modern state-of-the-art systems would use infrared and radar technology to track the person in the water, even at night. 

Cruise ships that have not installed these systems have to rely on a report from a crew member or another guest who may have happened to witness the man going overboard. The ship’s officers would then have to manually review CCTV surveillance videos to see if the man overboard can be verified and, if so, when and where the person went into the water. Many cruise lines require that the ship contact the marine operation and/or security department back in Miami before turning the ship around. In this case, we know from AIS data (right) that the Carnival Paradise never turned the ship around or conducted any type of search in the water.

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires cruise lines to employ current MOB technology whenever feasible. Many cruise lines and their defenders claim that the technology is not reliable. But there are highly reputable manufacturers with tested and proven technology that works impressively. 

I attended all of the many hearings in Congress before the automatic man overboard law was passed  eight years ago.  I watched the cruise lines and lobbying firms spend millions of dollars fighting against the legislation. It’s disheartening to see the cruise lines still failing to install the systems. These systems save lives. Without such a system, cruise lines must review the CCTV video after-the-fact to see if it shows anyone going over the rails and then search the passenger cabins when their guest has already gone into the water hours earlier, to only then belatedly call on the Coast Guard to essentially search for a needle in a haystack.  Plus, it’s a huge waste of time and taxpayer money (that the foreign flagged cruise industry doesn’t have to pay).

I’ve sent a Freedom of Information (FOIA) to the Coast Guard to request for the details of exactly when Carnival notified the Coast Guard of the overboard guest, where the ship was located when it first realized that a guest was missing, and when and how the guest went overboard. I also will try to determine how much it costs for the Coast Guard to launch two search-aircraft, a helicopter and a cutter from stations around Florida to search a grid pattern of over 3,000 square miles for 35 hours. I estimate that the figure is probably around $1,000,000 which would have been far better spent in installing life-saving technology in the first place.

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