Carnival Cruise Line suddenly and unexpectedly canceled all future port stops to Antigua, according to the AntiguaNewsRoom today.  Carnival’s announcement comes two weeks after Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne accused the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (“FCCA”) of “exploiting the region.”

As reported by the Daily Observer on February 26th, Prime Minister Browne accused the association of “exploiting Caribbean countries for lower visitor tax rates:”

“The reality is that the FCCA is literally exploiting the Caribbean. So you will charge, for example, thousands of dollars for your visitors to the Caribbean – and I know that the cruise business is capital intensive – but when you are giving these countries five or six dollars per head this cannot cover the capital costs for the infrastructure,” Browne said, pointing to Heritage Quay as an example of heavy infrastructure cost.”

Prime Minister Browne explained that the only way for small countries like Antigua to fight the FCCA is to form a regional port facility.

“Unless the entire Caribbean comes together and forms a regional port facility and mandate that [the Cruise Associations] pay more, we will continue to end up in problems and have to subsidise that sector. . . ”

Of course, the prime minister is right. This is not the first time that Carnival Cruise Line has done this to Antigua. Almost 10 years ago, as we reported in Carnival Drops Antigua Like A Hot Potato, Carnival has dropped Antigua from its regular seven night Southern Caribbean cruise itinerary. Antigua’s tourism minister at the time, John Maginley, told the Miami Herald that Carnival informed him of their decision via e-mail: “There was no discussion, none,” Maginely said. “We’re supposed to be partners in this thing, and all we got was an e-mail sent to the agent in Antigua that Carnival is pulling its boat.”

I wrote at the time that “this should serve as a wake up call for all ports of call which are dependent on cruise lines.  Carnival holds all of the cards in situations like this.  The notion that a sovereign country like Antigua is an equal “partner” to an 800 pound gorilla like Carnival is fanciful.  If a cruise line can make a better deal with an island next door, which charges a lower head tax, has fewer environmental restrictions, or is willing to foot the bill for a larger dock, then it’s ‘see ya later’ as far as the cruise line goes.”

Carnival Cruise Line’s website has already been updated to eliminate all cruises to Antigua.

Carnival’s latest pull out of Antigua will cost the island many millions of dollars in losses to its tour operators, vendors and other local businesses. Carnival, with its tax-free billions of dollars in income, will not miss a beat.

Cruise lines like Carnival remain selfish, fickle lovers.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

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Story credit: Cruise Fever Carnival Cruise Line Canceling All Ship Visits to Caribbean Cruise Port.

Photo credit: Carnival Breeze – Caribbean 360

 

A fire broke out on the Carnival Sensation as the Carnival cruise ship was returning to Miami at the end of a short cruise to the Western Caribbean. The cruise ship left Miami, Florida on February 7th to Key West and was scheduled to call on Cozumel, Mexico and then return to Miami today.

The Sensation was on the last night of a four day cruise to the Western Caribbean when the fire reportedly started around 3:00 a.m on the last night, according to a passenger who wishes to remain anonymous. She stated that the fire occurred on deck 6 aft.  Another passenger posted the following information and a photo of the aftermath of the fire on her Twitter account:

A producer at CNN was aboard the ship and took photographs and posted information about the fire on her Twitter page. Cruise guests donned life vests and crew members appeared wearing fire gear. Deck six reportedly smelled of smoke and fans were used to try and blow the smoke away:

She also commented that when the Sensation was heading from Key West toward Cozumel, a crew member was medevaced (on February 9th), requiring the ship to head back toward Key West. The passengers missed port in Cozumel.

Another cruise passenger commented on the smoke “so thick you could not see:”

Carnival responded to the tweets by denying that there was a fire and calling the incident a “smoke event.”

There have been other instances where cruise passengers reported that a fire occurred during a cruise which Carnival denied.  I call this the “smoke but no fire” excuse.

In March of 2016, there was a significant fire on the Carnival Splendor which disabled the ship. Carnival characterized the incident as involving “only-smoke-but-no-fire.” The Splendor had to be towed back to port after the fire. The final Coast Guard report stated that the fire burned for over nine hours before it was finally extinguished.

We have heard Carnival characterize the fires as “smoke events” before, like a fire on the Carnival Pride in 2015.  Carnival even tried to convince the passengers after a fire broke out on the Splendor that what they smelled was just a “flameless fire.” You can hear “there’s-smoke-but-no-flames-or-fire” characterization on this announcement recorded on this YouTube video of the Splendor fire which disabled the ship.

Carnival released the following statement after this latest fire or, as Carnival calls it, the “smoke event:”

“Carnival Sensation reported a smoke event early Monday morning while the ship was on its way back to its homeport of Miami and the conclusion of a five-day journey.  Smoke was coming from a housekeeping storage area on Deck 6, but when first responders arrived, they confirmed there was no fire.  Guests were alerted by public announcements and some guests near the source of the smoke were asked to evacuate their staterooms.  Both the captain and the cruise director made subsequent public announcements to update guests. Some guests waited in public areas and we provided refreshments; others returned to their staterooms once they were notified that the situation was under control.  Guests are now disembarking in a routine manner and the ship’s next sail, another five-day cruise, is scheduled to depart as planned Monday afternoon.”

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Photo credit: Top – Amanda Jackson via Twitter.

Update:

After I published this article, cruise passenger Amanda Jackson posted on Twitter an audio recording of the Cruise Director repeatedly referring to the “fire” (the “fire is under control,” etc.). Cruise passengers also recall being awoken by an announcement where Carnival stated that there was a fire multiple times.

Another Carnival passenger on the cruise ship also posted about the fire on Twitter after we published this article. She commented “the smoke was so thick that I couldn’t see/breathe:”

The United States Coast Guard medevaced an 80-year-old passenger who was injured on a Carnival cruise ship on Sunday.

The Carnival Ecstasy contacted the Coast Guard station in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, January 27, 2019 and stated that a female cruise guests had sustained a head injury after falling and required emergency medical treatment off of the ship. The Carnival Ecstasy was approximately 55 miles east of Savannah at 9:15 p.m. at the time of the call from the Carnival ship.

The Coast Guard station dispatched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter which arrived at the cruise ship at around 10:20 p.m. and hoisted the woman and a nurse and transported them to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. The woman’s current medical condition has not been disclosed.

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Video and photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville / Air Station Savannah via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS)

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a 40 year-old female passenger from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday, January 21, 2019.

The Coast Guard medevaced a woman who was suffering from abdominal pains from the Carnival Pride when the cruise ship was around 50 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina yesterday.

The Coast Guard stations in Elizabeth City launched a helicopter which hoisted the ill passenger, her spouse, and a nurse and flew then to Carteret Health Care Medical Center in Morehead City.

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Video and photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

 

Cruise passengers aboard the Carnival Conquest are stating that the cruise ship was delayed for several hours in Aruba last night due to what the local press is reporting to be a sexual assault.

Several passengers stated that they reported what they described two things of significance: (1) a van at the port where local police are placing bags of some type of forensic evidence from the ship, and (2) a security guard posted outside of a passenger cabin.

Several newspapers in Aruba such as 24ora and awe24 report that a passenger from the Carnival Conquest was arrested and taken into custody in Aruba by the local police.

The cruise ship crime reporting portal maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation reflect that there have been 53 sexual assaults reported on cruise ships in the last year (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018). Of the 53 alleged incidents listed on the portal, 31 occurred on cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line.

The last sexual crime on the Carnival Conquest which we reported on involved an adult passenger who sexually assaulted a 12 year-old girl during a cruise in January 2016. The man was arrested and pleaded guilty this year to sexual abuse of the minor.

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Photo credit: 24ora and awe24

An adult male passenger is reportedly missing from the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship and is believed to have gone overboard before the ship arrived in Progreso, Mexico today.

The Carnival cruise ship left Mobile, Alabama on December 15th at 4:00 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Progreso, Mexico today at 8:00 a.m.

According to the Cruise Life Cargo Facebook page, announcements were made via the Fantasy’s onboard PA system last night that a guest was missing on the ship.

We are currently on the Carnival Fantasy at port in Progreso, MX. Last night there were announcements board cast through…

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The Facebook page reported that there was a search by Carnival crew members as the Carnival Fantasy sailed toward Progreso. Approximately five and one-half hours after the Carnival cruise ship reached the Mexican port, local authorities boarded the ship with a search dog to try and locate the missing passenger.

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The missing man was reportedly on the autism spectrum, although there was no conclusion offered why he went overboard.

This is the fourth person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship in less than one month. All of the disappearances involved circumstances where the ship did not realize that the passenger (and in one case a crew member) went overboard.

None of the cruise ships seemed to be equipped with a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which would immediately notify the bridge that a person went over the railing. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology that can track the person at night in the water.

For the few cruise lines which have invested in such technology, the system can substantially increase a ship’s response to a guest or crew member going overboard. Most importantly, the system can significantly improve the likelihood of a ship conducting a successful search and rescue.

One such system, by MARSS MOBtronic, has been commercially available since 2010.  There are a number of other reliable MOB systems readily available to the cruise lines.

For cruise lines which have not invested in the technology, ship personnel are forced to conduct a search of the ship, review hours of CCTV images, and, in this case, request local authorities to board the ship with a search animal to conduct manual searches of the ship. Such efforts are usually futile.

Carnival has apparently not located CCTV images of the person going overboard and it has no idea when or why the incident occurred. It apparently did not request assistance from either the U.S. or Mexican coast guards to conduct searches at sea.  In the last overboard from a Carnival cruise ship (the Carnival Victory three days ago) Carnival was quick to announce that the guest allegedly went overboard “intentionally.”

The Carnival Fantasy has continued on with its cruise to Cozumel (scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning) and is scheduled to arrive back to Mobile on the morning of December 20th.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 24 people have gone overboard from cruise ships this year. That’s an average of 2 a month.

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December 19, 2018 Update: 

Carnival has to review hours of CCTV and invite the Mexican Navy aboard with a search dog to try to locate a passenger?

WKRG New5 Cruise passenger with special needs confirmed dead.

Photo credit: Carnival Fantasy (top) – Carnival Cruise Line; bottom – Cruise Life Cargo.

A cruise guest is reportedly missing from a Carnival cruise ship this morning, according to several passengers including a journalist on the ship. A passenger informed me that the ship is the Carnival Victory.

According to at least one passenger on the ship, CCTV “cameras confirm that the passenger went overboard. It’s unknown if he jumped or fell. The U.S. Coast Guard is searching by air.”

The overboard passenger appears to have gone overboard around 4 or 5 hours earlier, according to passenger accounts.

The Carnival ship was returning to Miami at the time of the overboard.

It does not appear that Carnival has complied with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which requires cruise ships calling on U.S. ports to be equipped with man overboard systems which automatically send send a signal to the bridge whenever someone goes overboard.

The cruise ship can quickly try to locate and rescue the person using sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology. Numerous experts have recommended such state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this.

Cruise expert Ross Klein reports that at least 23 people have gone overboard this year. an average of at least 2 people a month. 325 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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December 14, 2018 P.M. Update: The Miami Herald covers the story – 26-year-old man overboard from cruise ship near the Florida Keys.  “A 2010 federal law requires cruise ships to be equipped with technology to detect overboard incidents as soon as they happen “to the extent that such technology is available.” Most cruise lines do not believe the available overboard detection technology is reliable, and most ships do not have it. Carnival declined to comment on whether the Carnival Victory has automatic overboard detection technology.”

The refusal by Carnival and other cruise lines to install auto man overboard systems on their ship causes extraordinary delays in searching for the person going overboard.  Ms. Wyatt (above) was tweeting about the man overboard before 8:00 a.m this morning.

December 15, 2018 Update: The Orlando Sentinel identified the overboard guest as 26 year-old Thomas McElhany.

Photo credit: Top – Carnival Victory AIS – MarineTraffic; missing passenger – Kimberly Wyatt @tv_leader

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger yesterday from a Carnival cruise ship which had sailed from Galveston, Texas.

On December 2, 2018, the Carnival Valor contacted the Coast Guard in Houston requesting emergency medical treatment for a 71 year-old passenger. The Coast Guard dispatched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter which flew approximately 58 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and arrived at the ship on Sunday morning. The helicopter hoisted the ill guest and a nurse from the Carnival cruise ship flew them to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston which is about 50 miles  southeast of downtown Houston.

The Carnival Valor left Galveston, Texas on Saturday December 1, 2018 and was scheduled to arrive in Cozumel, Mexico today and then sail to Progreso, Mexico on December 4th and return to Galveston on December 6th.

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Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard by Air Station Houston via Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS).

Carnival Cruise Line just increased its automatic gratuities on drinks (both alcohol and non-alcohol) from 15% to 18%.

Automatic gratuities result in money being deducted directly from the guest’s accounts.

A Carnival employee sent a copy of a letter from Richard Morse, Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, explaining that from the the 3% increase, 1.5% will go to the Carnival server and the remaining 1.5% will go into a pool to fund Carnival expenses including the costs of  uniforms and return airline tickets for crew members.

This development was first reported in an article by the popular Crew-Center website. When I posted this information on our Cruise Law News’ Facebook page, this is how cruise passengers reacted:

  • Greedy bastards! So WE are paying their increased salary, not the rich cruise lines! 😡 
  • They should be paying for benefits and employees uniforms, etc., not us!
  • Raise prices. Tips should be part of fare.
  • Next we will have to pay for the fuel you nickel and dime us guests more and more every year to pay for all your new ships you keep building.
  • Total and utter rip-off.
  • CEO will get how many million $$$$$$$ bonus for increasing profit??
  • . . . so where is that increase going ? uniforms and return ticket lol….

The letter (image above), dated November 29, 2018, sent to all beverage positions is itemized below:

“We are pleased to announce effective on sailings starting on or after December 1st, the automatic gratuity added to the guests’ check for all beverage sales and a la carte dining outlets will increase from 15% to 18%. In addition the extra tip line will remain on all the guests’ checks. This enables our guests to add any additional extra gratuity they deem appropriate. This increase will reflect your first paycheck of December 2018.

From this 3% increase, 1.5% will go to server and remaining 1.5% will go into the ASP pool. As you know the ASP pool funds employee compensation and benefit programs that you receive; including bar level pay, itinerary stipend pay, as well as free uniform and return airline tickets.

Our Bartenders and Bar Waiters lead the cruise industry in compensation. This is a result on everyone’s hard work and efforts to increase overall bar sales as well as the success of the Working Smarter program. As we look forward to 2019, we expect this trend to continue and this will ensure that Carnival Cruise Line remains the employer of choice.

As you know the Beverage Team plays a vital role in creating Fun Memorable Vacations for our guests. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your Positive Attitude and for the Pride you show in our company.”

It is rather amazing to watch a cruise line, incorporated in Panama where it registers its cruise ships in order to avoid U.S. income taxes, requiring its U.S. guests, who pay their taxes, to pay gratuities which are going to pay for the crew employees’ uniforms and airline tickets!

Automatic gratuities is an issue involving all of the major cruise lines.  Whereas the luxury lines like Azamara, Crystal, Seabourn, Regent and SeaDream do not charge automatic gratuities, the mass lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean do. We have written about this issue many times, including Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival.

November 2, 2018 Update: We received the following statement from Carnival:

“We have increased the bar gratuity to 18% which is in line with the industry and hotel and restaurants on land.  Those funds are shared across all crew members who support the beverage operations, including those our guests may not see but are working to stock, clean and run equipment and support tasks.  A very small portion of the gratuity pool funds items that crew members normally cover beyond what the company pays for in travel and uniform costs.

Our crew appreciate everything our guests do for them. They work very hard and understand the policies in place. The salary Carnival pays them and the gratuities our guests give allows our crew to provide a better for life for themselves and their family.  And they are also supportive of how we administer the pool portion of the gratuity which fully and exclusively benefits our shipboard employees.”

November 4, 2018 Update: Carnival’s website claims that: “It is customary for our guests to extend gratuities to the shipboard staff in appreciation for their hard work and exceptional service. 100% of your gratuities are distributed to the crew who you interact with, such as your stateroom attendants, dining, bar and culinary services staff, as well as others who work behind the scenes to enhance your overall cruise experience.”

This appears to be false considering that Carnival is using half of the increase in the drink gratuities to pay for things like uniform and travel costs. It also appears questionable whether customers can remove pre-paid gratuities on drink packages.

The Sun newspaper reported on the gratuity increase today.

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Mechanical problems are affecting the speed of the Carnival Victory cruise ship which departed yesterday from the port of Miami.

The Carnival cruise ship was supposed to sail from Miami to Key West arriving this morning around 7:30 a.m., and then sailing on to Cozumel, Mexico before returning to Miami in October 26, 2018.

However, yesterday Carnival stated that an unspecified “issue” is affecting the ship’s “maximum cruising speed.” A letter to the ship’s guests signed by the Master of the cruise ship stated that although technicians were doing the “necessary work,” the ship would operate on a modified itinerary. The ship would sail to Nassau in the Bahamas where it would arrive at 10:00 a.m. today and it would then spend the day tomorrow at its private destination in Princess Cays in the Bahamas. The Carnival Victory would then spend a day at sea on Thursday and would return to Miami Friday morning.

AIS shows the ship in Nassau this morning after sailing at an average speed of around 11-12 knots.

Carnival was offering a $50 onboard credit or a refund for anyone who wished to cancel the cruise.

The propulsion issue facing the Carnival victory comes at a time when Carnival announced that the ship is part of a $2 billion enhancement program where the cruise line is rebranding a number of its shipsThe Carnival Victory will be dry docked before returning to the fleet as Carnival Radiance in 2020. The ship will undergo major refurbishments including specialty dining facilities, aqua parks, and enhanced accommodations and amenities.

USA TODAY writes that the overhaul of the Victory will “take place over 38 days at a dry dock in Cadiz, Spain and cost $200 million – one of the priciest cruise ship makeovers on record.” The makeover will include the “addition of more than 100 cabins, the revamping of existing cabins and the addition of nearly a dozen food and drink outlets.”

We were first notified that the cruise ship arrived in port in Miami with the assistance of tugs yesterday.

Power losses of cruise ships are a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including problems with the Carnival Elation, Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Vista as well as the Carnival owned AdoniaCaribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, and Costa neoRiviera.

2017 saw a number of Carnival cruise ships experiencing engine problems, such as the Carnival Dream, which was forced to miss a port in Mexico in August and then limped back to New Orleans, as well as propulsion issues plaguing the Carnival FantasyCarnival Paradise, and Carnival Splendor.

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Photo credit – Carnival Victory (in Nassau): Justinpolanco – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.