The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from the Holland America Line Veendam on Thursday.

The medevac involved a 65-year-old woman who was suffering from leg pain. The HAL cruise ship was approximately 50 miles east of Charleston when it contacted the Coast Guard. 

The Coast Guard station in Charleston flew a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to the cruise ship during the evening of April 26, 2018. The helicopter arrived at the ship around 7:30 P.M. p.m., hoisted the passenger and transported her to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital.

The Coast Guard station in Clearwater, Florida dispatched a HC-130 Hercules aircraft to support communications coverage.

Video credit: The U.S. Coast Guard via the News & Observer.

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Carnival Pride MedevacsThe U.S. Coast Guard  medevaced two passengers on separate occasions from a Carnival cruise ship on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 according to a Coast Guard website.

The first medevac from the Carnival Pride ship involved a 46 year-old passenger who the shipboard medical team suspected had suffered a stroke on Monday night. Bad weather conditions apparently delayed the woman from being medevaced from the cruise ship until the following morning when the cruise ship was approximately from the cruise ship was 15 miles east of Charleston. The Coast Guard station in Charleston had received notification at around 6:27 p.m. Monday and launched a  MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Savannah at 7 a.m. due to low visibility from heavy fog Monday night. The woman and a nurse were hoisted and taken to Roper St. Francis Hospital at 8:13 a.m.

Approximately four hours later, the Carnival ship contacted the Coast Guard and requested a second medevac involving a 64 year-old woman who was reportedly suffering from severe stomach pains. The Pride was 35 miles east of Savannahat this time.

The Carnival cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard station in Charleston for the need for a second passenger rescue at around 11:30 a.m. and the Coast Guard launched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Savannah around 11:45 a.m. The woman and a nurse were hoisted and taken to Memorial University Medical Center at around 1:49 p.m.

The Coast Guard noted that both woman are reportedly in stable condition.

Medevacs by the U.S. Coast Guard are paid for U.S. taxpayers; there are no expenses directly to the cruise line or cruise passenger or, in cases involving crew members, to the cruise ship employees if they require emergency evacuation from the ship.

Video credit: Defense Imagery Video Distribution System (DVIDS): Top and bottom – by Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton U.S. Coast Guard District 7.

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P&O OceanaA month ago, a crew member aboard the P&O Oceana notified me that the cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection by the enters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while the ship was in port in Charleston, South Carolina.  Oceana received a score of 82; 85 or lower is considered a failure.

I have been checking the CDC’s online inspection scores since then. I have been asking the CDC when it will release its report on the Oceana.

The report was finally released today. You can read the report here. The report indicated that several back-flow prevention devices, to prevent the contamination of potable water, did not have test results and appeared not to be tested. The ship’s Riviera swimming pool and Crystal whirlpool did not have adequate levels of chlorinated and bromine, failed to have hair and lint strainers / filters and were not disinfected. The inspector closed the recreational water facilities on the ship.

The report also revealed that a food handler had an onset of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) and exhibited symptoms at 9:00 A.M. in the morning but did did not report to the medical center until 11:20 A.M. A review of the crew member’s work history indicated that this crew member worked, notwithstanding his illness, from 7:30 A.M. until 10:30 A.M.

The ship’s galley appeared dirty. There were comments like “the tile grout in this area was soiled and in disrepair.”  “The deck below under counter refrigerator . . . had a significant buildup of more than a week’s accumulation of food debris, dirt, equipment parts, and what appeared to be insect remains.” Food service equipment was broken or out of service and many operational ovens and ice-makers were overflowing their drip pans and/or leaking onto the floor.

Oceana has not prepared a “corrective action report” in response to the failed score, as required by the CDC.

In an era when cruise lines are quick to blame every single norovirus outbreak on the passengers, this CDC report provides an insight into how deficient water sanitation and disgusting food handling practices by a cruise line can jeopardize the health of the traveling public.

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April 4, 2016 Update: The CDC vessel sanitation inspectors inspected the P&O Oriana in February.  Although the cruise ship passed with a score of 90, there were several significant sanitation problems including dirty and out of service galley equipment.  Also food handlers working while ill with gastrointeritis: “A Chef de Partie experienced onset of GI symptoms on 20 January 2016 at 6:45 am. This crew member worked from 7 am to 11 am, took lunch at the crew mess, then returned to work from 1 pm to 5 pm. The chef reported his symptoms to the medical center at 6 pm.”   You can read the report here.

April 5, 2016 Update:  Cruise Law News was quoted today in the Southampton’s Daily  Echo and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Fortune magazine also covered the story, writing that it “raises questions about the industry’s squeaky-clean image, and indeed, that there may be more unreported cases that were either ignored or dismissed by the sickened passengers or the cruise lines themselves.”

April 6, 2016 Update:  FoxNews covers the story today – Health inspectors find cockroaches, ‘potentially hazardous’ food aboard two luxury cruise ships.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) interjects the blame-the-passenger-wash-your-hands excuse but ignores the fact that crew members were handling food while contagious and the ship’s galley was found to be unsanitary and potentially hazardous to the guests’ health.

Photo credit: Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A 41 year old man returning on a cruise was arrested on child pornography charges last Thursday after his cruise ended and the ship returned to Charleston, South Carolina, according to a report in the Post and Courier newspaper

The newspaper reports that Eric Jason Blankenship of West Virginia was charged with one count of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. He disembarked from the Carnival Fantasy

The Charleston Police Department, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, acted on information that Blackenship had received child pornography.

The police detained him when he was disembarking the ship and found multiple images containing child pornography on his phone,

Blankenship was reportedly released on a $100,000 bail,  

We have written about dozens of cases where cruise passengers and crew members have been arrested for child pornography. 

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Cruise Ship Child Pornography

Photo Credit: abcnews4

An unusual debate continues over the use of Charleston, South Carolina as a cruise port and the scale of the cruise industry’s presence in this quaint old southern town.  There is a lot to argue about – air emissions, waste discharge, traffic, noise and passenger congestion as well as the visual pollution of this beautiful city.  

The debate is unusual insofar as few places, other than Alaska and California, have taken steps to hold cruise lines accountable to public health and community standards. 

Cruise Billboard - Charleston South Carolina Cruise lines such as Carnival Corporation have a deplorable history of air emissions and waste discharge.  They are used to having their way with third world countries and U.S. ports, only to suddenly leave town when they can think they can get a better deal elsewhere.

Consider Carnival’s abandonment of places like Antigua, Mobile and, just last week, Bermuda.   

The Coastal Conservation League, the Preservation Society of Charleston and Charleston’s Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood are wise to try and hold Carnival accountable to local laws and regulations.

The Charleston City Paper reports that the debate over cruise ship regulations in Charleston has now led to a "billboard kerfuffle." 

The newspaper explains that in September, a citizens’ group called Charleston Communities for Cruise Control put up a billboard (top) on I-26 that reads "SAVE CHARLESTON: SUPPORT CRUISE CONTROL."  The billboard depicts the smoke funnels of a Carnival cruise ship looming over the skyline.

On Monday, an anti-regulation business group calling itself CruiseOnInCharleston.org erected its Cruise Billboard - Charleston South Carolinaown billboard (bottom) with the message "CRUISE ON IN … WELCOME and THANK YOU." 

Its exciting to actually see this debate continuing about a cruise industry which usually bullies its way without discussion into one-sided business deals which contain no guarantees for the host ports.  The billboard battle reflects that Charleston, unlike 95% of cruise ports, is a community with citizens of intelligence and integrity who are not about to roll over and let the cruise industry turn their community into a place like Key West or Nassau.

One day Carnival will pull out of Charleston with no notice when it finds that it can make more money sailing from another port which has no concern for issues like pollution and congestion. Carnival will then leave Charleston’s businesses with nothing more than their welcome billboards.    

A local Charleston South Carolina television station (WCIV  ABC-4) is reporting that the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston is preparing to file a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines to make the cruise line subject to city and state regulations.

The lawsuit is the latest development in the debate about the suitability of cruise ships in this quaint old southern city.  Many citizens are concerned with the scale of the cruise industry’s presence in Charleston, as well as air emissions, waste discharge, noise and passenger congestion.  

Carnival - Charleston South Carolina LawsuitThe Coastal Conservation League and the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood are named as plaintiffs in the proposed lawsuit.

These groups in Charleston are wise to hold Carnival accountable to laws and regulations. Other than the states of Alaska and California, few places have taken steps to hold cruise lines accountable to public health and community standards.  In March, we reported on a landmark legal decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that the state of California can regulate the shipping and cruise industries and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner  fuel.

One of the problems with the cruise industry is that cruise ship use diesel and nasty bunker fuels which spew toxic particulate matter into the air.  Unlike most states, California requires that ships use cleaner fuel starting 24 nautical miles from California’s shore.  The cruise industry unsuccessfully tried to avoid the public health law by arguing that it was not subject to state law.  

Last year, Charleston went through quite an ordeal with the cruise industry when four consecutive sailings of the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship from its port were plagued by massive norovirus outbreaks until the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a rare "no sail" order for the cruise line to clean up its cruise ship. 

The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship – with over 400 norovirus infected passengers – could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don’t care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are corporate felons for environmental crimes and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Trusting them to act responsibly is foolish.  That’s why South Carolina is smart to protect its waters and its people by holding the cruise ships accountable to local regulations and ordinances.