This evening (past midnight local time), the Costa Luminosa cruise ship responded to a ship on fire off the Coast of Greece.  The Costa ship reportedly aided in the rescue of crew members from the merchant vessel.

The ship fire was tweeted by Angel David / @angeltem.

The tweet reads: “cruiser rescuing another ship. Fire aboard a merchant vessel in the middle of the night.”

Translated, the tweet reads: “think the boat on fire in Kithira, Greece is the 1 built in 1986 and with 79 meters.”

The Costa Luminosa apparently was involved, along with other vessel which responded to the fire, in rescuing the crew members from the burning vessel.

A passenger on the cruise ship commented on the rescue operations and posted a video on her Facebook page.”

November 21, 2018 Update: According to A R X Maritime, a “Turkish Cargo Ship, Kilic 1, caught on fire in the evening of November 20, approximately 8 nautical miles southeast of Cape Matapan, near the southern coast of Greece. The vessel was en route from Tunisia to Turkey when a fire broke out in the engine room. Kilic’s crew of 11, all Turkish nationals, did not manage to put the fire under control, and thus were forced to abandon ship. Italian cruise ship, Costa Luminosa, arrived at the scene after responding to Kilic’s distress call. The crew all boarded the cruise ship and are all considered to be safe and in good health. Greek maritime authorities arrived upon the scene in force, with over six Coast Guard vessels, a navy helicopter and multiple tugs that attempted to put out the fire.”

If you have information about the fire and rescue of the crew of the burning ship, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: Angel David / @angeltem.

Earlier this afternoon, a passenger aboard the Celebrity Constellation informed me that the Celebrity cruise ship broke its moorings in La Spezia, Italy due to torrential winds during a heavy rain storm.

⚠️Celebrity Constellation rompe amarras esta mañana, en el Puerto de La Spezia.⚠️https://crucerofun.comMira lo que sucede en este video ↙️🤦‍♀️Celebrity Constellation, perteneciente a la naviera Celebrity Cruises se encontraba amarrado en el puerto de La Spezia cuando de manera imprevista como consecuencia de los fuertes vientos y tormentas que azotan desde ayer a la región, rompió sus amarres quedando a la deriva. Tres remolcadores rápidamente llegaron a su rescate y trabajaron arduamente para asegurar que la nave no colisione con el Costa Magica que tambien se encontraba amarrado en el puerto.Se vivieron minutos de mucha tensión hasta lograr auxiliar con éxito a la nave. Las tornentas aun siguen sin cesar en la zona portuaria y sus alrededores . Muchas embarcaciones estan cambiando sus rumbos hacia puertos donde puedan detenerse sin complicaciones. Cinco embarcaciones que debian partir ayer desde el puerto de Venecia, aun se encuentran amarradas, aguardando que pasen los fuertes vientos y el clima sea el adecuado para comenzar sus itinerarios.Esperemos que todo mejore pronto! #CelebrityConstellation #CruceroFun #LaSpezia #Fun #MomentosFun #ModoFun #Cruises #Cruceros📽 Chiara Angelinelli

Posted by Crucero Fun on Monday, October 29, 2018

 

We were subsequently informed via Twitter that once the mooring lines broke, the Constellation struck the Costa Magica which was also in port in La Spezia.

A friend on Twitter informed me that there is very bad weather affecting the western & central Mediterranean Sea, with gale-force winds affecting the region causing commercial vessels to cancel their sailings. The heavy wind caused chaos to some of the container ships in port as well, according to some of the people on Twitter.

Many of the passengers are now on buses heading to Rome, after being told that the port in Rome is closed and after the Constellation remained in La Spezia.

Cruise passenger Debbie Laughton tweeted that Celebrity has “given us back our luggage & expect a mass exodus off the ship over the next two hours! Five hours to Rome . . . ”

Another Celebrity passenger on the Constellation complained of poor communications from the cruise ship staff, tweeting that “communication is soooo incredibly bad, in particular for those who have to leave the ship early tomorrow. So bad!!!”

Have a comment? Please leave a comment on out Facebook page.

Video credit: Crucero Fun

What happened? On December 19, 2017, an excursion bus (identified as tourist bus number 1012, Mercedes Benz, license plates 82 RA7V), operated by a Mexican transportation company on behalf of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., carrying passengers from the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas and from the Celebrity Equinox (also owned by Royal Caribbean) ran off the road while dirivng to a Mayan ruins tourist attraction in Chacchoben, in Quintana Roo state, Mexico. The accident resulted in the bus flipping over, shattering windows and ejecting some of the passengers onto the road and the shoulder of the road. The two cruise ships sailed from ports in South Florida, with the Equinox leaving from PortMiami and the Serenade leaving from Port Everglades, with both ships arriving at the port of Costa Maya (Mahahual). Royal Caribbean stated via Royal Caribbean Celebrity Cruises Bus Excursion AccidentTwitter that there were 27 passengers aboard the excursion bus (in addition to the bus guide and the bus driver), although the federal police in Mexico stated that there were 31 people on the bus.

How many guests were killed? Eleven passengers and a Mexican guide were killed in the accident.

The Swedish and Canadian governments confirmed the deaths of cruise passengers from those countries. There were two passengers from Sweden and one from Canada (from Quebec) who were killed. The U.S. embassy in Mexico City confirmed that there were eight American deaths. There are news accounts of multiple injuries to U.S. passengers as well as Royal Caribbean guests from Canada.

How many guests were injured? The Quintana Roo state prosecutor’s office had reported that seven injured tourists had returned to the cruise ships while 13 remained hospitalized, six of them in Tulum and seven in the city of Chetumal, near the Belize border. Of the thirteen people seriously injured, there are three Americans, four Brazilians, three Canadians, and two Swedes (who reportedly have already been flown to the U.S. for medical treatment), as well as the Mexican bus driver.

How did the accident occur? The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Initial information is that a passenger on another bus which passed the crash site observed skid marks on the dry pavement. According to NBC News, Quintana Roo state prosecutor Miguel Angel Pech Cen Royal Caribbean Bus Excursion Accidentsaid at a news conference that a preliminary investigation indicates that the bus driver’s negligence led him to lose control, and when he tried to return back to the narrow highway, the bus flipped, struck a tree and landed in vegetation along the roadside. “Due to a lack of care the driver lost control of the bus’ steering to the right, leaving the asphalt,” Pech Cen said. He said signs found at the scene indicate the driver was going too fast.

The Associated Press reported via NBC News that Mexican authorities said “driver negligence and excessive speed caused the crash.”

Reuters is reporting that the front tire of the bus may have exploded, according to the local police chief in Mexico.

There is conflicting information regarding the whereabouts of the driver of the excursion bus. Some sources say that the driver has been arrested and will be prosecuted for criminal negligence. Others reports indicate that the driver’s whereabouts are not known to Mexican prosecutors.

At least one passenger (photo left) was quoted as saying that “the seat belts were tied below the seats, no one told us to put them on . . .” This may explain why some of the bus passengers were apparently not restrianed in their seats and were ejected from the bus.

Is Royal Caribbean Responsible? Cruise lines have a legal duty to conduct a through background check into the reputation, qualifications and safety record of the tour operators which they involve in their excursions for their guests. They are legally required under U.S. maritime law to vet the individuals and companies who/which drive their customers in ports of call. Cruise lines also have a legal duty to warn passengers of dangers in foreign ports of call. If other passengers complained that the tour drivers were speeding or driving recklessly or there were no functioning seatbelts available for use by the guests on the buses, then the cruise line had a duty to intervene and correct these dangerous conditions or warn of these dangers. Cruise lines can be held liable in the U.S. court system for accidents which occur in foreign ports of call for the negligent operation of excursion buses operated by the local agents, particularly when the cruise lines misrepresent that the Cruise Bus Excursion Accident - Mexicoexcursions are carefully vetted and safe.

Royal Caribbean operates many thousands of excursions around the world. It would require the cruise line to vet and inspect ten to fifteen foreign cruise excursion and transportation companies around the world each and every day of the year if it were inclined to perform a background check on each tour operator at least once a year. The cruise line does not devote the resources necessary to properly vet and oversee the safe operation of excursions aroud the world, despite the hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars it collects from its passengers who take such cruise excursions.

There are reports on social media that other cruise customers have experienced unsafe conditions on this excursion before this accident. Posters leaving comments on the popular Cruise Critic site have stated: “We went on probably this same exursion which is down a dirt road at top speeds for 45 minutes. We feared our life and would never do it again . . . ” Another poster stated: “This is the exact cruise port and the exact bus tour and the exact road we were on, a week and a half ago . . Speed and driving and safety rules are not the same in other countries. On the way back from the tour, the bus was going extremely fast. I commented that we better hope nothing unexpectedly comes out of bush. It is a lery long, 45 minute straight stretch of road.”

A newspaper in Mexico writes regarding the local tour company ” . . . is not the first time that (it) is involved in an accident due to the lack of caution of its operators that drive exceeding the speed limits . . .”

What is Royal Caribbean’s Excursion Safety Record? There have been at least six bus excursions throughout the Caribbean in the last ten years where Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises passengers have been killed or seriously injured. You can read more about prior cruise excursion accidents here.

Cruise lines collect hundreds of millions of dollars promoting and selling shore excursions in foreign ports of call, and are not even subject to U.S. taxes on this highly profitable business.  Yet, they claim that their local agents are “independent contractors” who are not subject to jurisdiction here in the U.S. when their cruise guests are injured or killed during these excursions.

Read: Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel: Can cruise lines ensure shore excursions they offer are safe?

Read: NBC News:  Mexico tourist bus crash: Survivors heading home, 2 victims ID’d.

Image credit:  Celebrity Equinox (top) – CBS News; cruise passenger (middle) – Time magazine; scene of accident (bottom) – CBS News; video below – CBS News; Facebook loading page of Serenade of the Seas by Sunnya343 CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

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For a two year period from 2012 to 2014, as many as thirty-four people who posed as cruise ship passengers on Costa ships participated in a smuggling network that transported hashish from Morocco to Brazil and cocaine from South America to Europe, according to the The Local newspaper in France.

The French newspaper reported that the "innovative and audacious" international drug smuggling ring consisted of nearly three dozen "low-level ‘mules’ who came from the same working class area of the city of Nice" and strapped the drugs to their bodies and carried the hash and cocaine on and off Costa cruise ships.

The drug carriers are on trial in France for smuggling the drugs between several continents. The Costa Cruise Shipsarticle says that the cruise staff on the cruise ships wondered what these young people were doing on cruises "if they were not accompanying their grandparents.”  

The article also mentioned that the the ill-fated Costa Concordia was reportedly carrying a huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine when she sank in January 2012.

We previously reported that several people were arrested with over 16 kilos of cocaine while disembarking the Costa Pacifica in Malaga following a Transatlantic cruise from South America several years ago.

The use of cruise ships to smuggle cocaine is a subject which we have reported on many times over the last couple of years. A few examples: 

There was a major drug bust (15 kilos) aboard the Splendor of the Seas in Buenos Aires in 2015. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship was heading to Brazil and then Europe.

In the same year, five men were caught trying to smuggle 26 kilos aboard the MSC Magnifica in São Paulo.

Three passengers were busted on a Princess cruise ship, the Sea Princess, last August of 2016, for smuggling over 209 pounds of cocaine.   

Just two weeks ago, three Princess crew members on the Island Princess were nabbed in Vancouver for smuggling five kilos of cocaine into Canada.

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

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

Yesterday, a crew member apparently went overboard from the Costa Deliziosa, according to the website of cruise expert, Dr. Ross Klein.

The Deliziosa was at the end of its transatlantic crossing heading to the Canary Islands.

The information was conveyed to Dr. Klein from a person on the Costa cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous.

There was no information available regarding the circumstances surrounding the disappearance.

AIS tracking sites show the cruise ship making what appears to be maneuvers to retrace its route in the Atlantic to search for the man.

There have been 290 people who have gone overboard since 2000, according to Dr. Klein’s website.

Costa has not made an official statement regarding the incident to date.

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

Update: A reader brought to my attention that this incident was published yesterday on a Dutch website (with photos). The website says that the crew member went overboard around 6:00 A.M. The ship apparently sailed ahead and then had to turn around and sail for three-and-one-half hours back to the location where the crew member went overboard. The delayed search was not successful. A Portuguese aircraft assisted in the search, according to the article.

Update: Costa sent us the following statement:

“Statement Regarding Costa Deliziosa Crewmember

GENOA (March 30, 2017) — At approximately 10 a.m. local time on March 29, 2017, while Costa Deliziosa was on a transatlantic repositioning cruise to Europe from the United States, a crewmember was reported missing. Following standard procedure, ship command notified Costa Crociere headquarters and implemented a full-ship search. When the crewmember was not located onboard, the ship turned around and began search and rescue operations and notified the nearest Maritime Rescue Recovery Center, which dispatched a search plane to the area.

Late on the night of March 29, MRCC released Costa Deliziosa from the search and the ship continued on to its next call at Santa Cruz, Tenerife. Guests were informed throughout the day. Costa is in contact with all relevant authorities and its Care Team is assisting the crewmember’s family.

The 2,260-passenger Costa Deliziosa is on a 24-day transatlantic cruise from Port Everglades, Florida, to Venice, Italy.”
Image credit: Marine Traffic.

Costa Deliziosa Overboard

 

Costa Magica FireLast Friday night, around 1:30 A.M., a fire broke out in the engine room of the Costa Magica.

A passenger brought the event to my attention, indicating that there were several conflicting announcements from the cruise ship’s captain regarding where the fire broke out. The passenger indicated that the fire lasted over an hour.  

Shortly after I published an article about the fire, a reader brought to my attention that Costa had been asked on Facebook whether a fire broke out on the ship. Costa dodged the question.

We asked Costa and parent company Carnival Corporation for an explanation. We heard nothing from Costa, or from Carnival, but we did receive a comment on our Facebook page from an engineer inspector for Carnival in Genoa, Italy. He falsely claimed that there was "no fire" on the Costa ship.   

Costa finally responded to the inquiry on Facebook, belatedly claiming that the fire was allegedly "small" and "quickly extinguished" and, claiming further, that the safety of the passengers was never in question. It did not mention the cause of the fire or how long the fire crew had to battle the fire before extinguishing it.

Today, we received a message from a passenger who was on the Magica at the time of the fire, saying (translated):

"I am French and I confirm the fire on board because I was there as a passenger.

We suffered a fire on board (engine room) on Thursday 23/2 causing an alert in the middle of the night at sea. The crew on the launches were disorganized, stressed and did not answer the questions of the worried passengers . . . Like many passengers, we experienced this somewhat traumatic experience and the lack of subsequent communication was not reassuring.

Imagine: messages in Italian indicating throughout the boat and cabins that there is an alert in the middle of the night. You go out into the corridors and there everyone runs in all directions. You are asking questions to staff who already have their yellow lifejackets and they reply:

  • nothing and continue to run
  • getting back to your cabin is all right!

On deck 3 facing the rescue boats you observe the stressed faces of the crew and on the lookout for any information from the commander. After an hour the latter informs them that the situation is mastered . . . 

Costa Concordia LiesWhat is damaging is that in case of real alert, it is a little everyone for himself and the panic settles and is not at all controlled during and after the alert by COSTA.

I queried by mail COSTA on my return and to date no reply!"     

This account sounds like Costa’s response to the Costa Concordia disaster, when the ship’s officers delayed notifying Costa’s home office in Genoa, after the ship hit the rocks, and lied to the passengers onboard the ship about what was happening. When the ship was beginning to sink, many officers and managers misled the passengers and told them that "the situation is under control. Go back to your cabins . . ."

Thirty-two passengers and crew members died as a result of Costa’s negligence and lies.

That was over five years ago.  Has Costa learned anything since then?  

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

I suggest reading: Russel Rebello – The True Captain of the Costa Concordia.

Costa Magica FireToday we received a message from a passenger is sailing on the Costa Magica with family. The passenger indicated that a fire broke out on the Costa cruise ship yesterday, February 24th, while the cruise ship was heading toward Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe which is in the eastern Caribbean between St. Kitts and Antigua & Barbuda to the north and Dominica to the south. 

The passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, indicated that the fire started early in the morning/ late at night (around 1:30 A.M.), apparently in the engine room. 

The passenger stated that the passengers were timely informed that a fire broke out but there was confusing announcements regarding the location of the fire.

There was first an announcement regarding an emergency on deck A. Later, there was an announcement regarding an emergency in the luggage area on deck 0. Finally, there was an announcement of an emergency in the engine room, according to the passenger.  

We are trying to obtain further details regarding this reported incident, regarding the cause of the fire and the length of the time before the fire was extinguished. There is no indication that the ship was disabled nor any information suggesting that there were any injuries to passenger or crew members. 

If you are working or sailing on the Magica and have information to share, we would like to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact me via email at jim@cruiselaw.com. 

Update: After publishing this article, a reader brought to my attention that a report of a fire on this ship was posted (in German) via Facebook: "Just got the information of a fire onboard Costa Magica – are you sure Costa has everything under control??" (translated). Costa was asked to respond and said via Facebook: "it should be on board, so is the safety of our guests and the crew at the top. You can be assured that costa all action, if it is necessary. If you have any further questions, please send us a pm. Thank you very much and greetings, your costa team."  (translated) The person posting the comment then asked Costa: "So does this mean that it is untrue that it yesterday (in the engine room? ) has burned?" (translated). Costa has not responded to this inquiry. 

February 26, 2017 Update:  "Additional information from the reporting passenger: "it lasted at least 90 minutes. No smoke could be seen from our point of view. Fire doors near the cabins weren’t closed, ventilation wasn’t stop either. The ship seemed to have slowed down during the intervention.

 . . .  the ship bilingual staff made statements in different language. The Capt could only speaks italian on the PR system.

The crew were not close to us to inform us. From my cabin I could see a few crew members stand-by at a lifeboat.

Quickly after the annoncement that the fire was exthinguished, a medical team was required at muster station E. We had no news afterward on what happen there."

February 27, 2017 Update: Costa confirmed today that a fire broke out on the Magica, but claims that it was "small" and "quickly extinguished." No explanation was provided regarding the cause of the fire or the specific steps taken by the fire crew to extinguish it . . .

March 1, 2017 UpdateCosta Magica Fire: Did Costa Cruises Learn Anything from the Costa Concordia?

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

Costa neoRivieraThe Costa neoRiviera suffered a loss of all electricity during a port call in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, according to the Cruise Arabia & Africa website.

The website states that the Costa cruise ship switched to emergency power for several hours after the ship’s power was lost.

“According to staff aboard the ship, who asked to remain anonymous, a fault with one of the ship’s aft generators caused the loss of power.”

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

December 26, 2016 Update:  A reader states (below) that the Costa neoRiviera is experiencing propulsion issues. The ship is scheduled to cruise to Sir Bani Yas (in the Persian Gulf), southwest of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Savia RasquihnaA crew member from the Costa Serena is reportedly missing from the cruise since since November 19, 2016, according to his family. 

According to his brother who posted information on Twitter, Savio Rasquinha disappeared from the Costa Serena.  The cruise line has produced no CCTV and has offered no explanation to the crew member’s family.

The Costa Serena was sailing near Nagasaki, Japan when Mr Rasquinha disappeared from the ship.

Mr. Rasquinha is from Marol, Mumbai.  He joined the cruise ship in September.

This is the 282nd person  to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000. 

A passenger went overboard from the Costa Serena in 2010. 

Andheri man goes missing mid-sea between Japan and China covers the story.

If you have information, please contact Mr. Rasquinha’s brother here

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

Italian newspapers are reporting that a 34 year-old waiter was sentenced to 10 months in jail for assaulting and attempting to rape a 17 year-old girl on the Costa Fascinosa.  The Il Gazzettino first reported the incident which occurred three years ago on October 19th during a cruise in the Adriatic Sea, between Istanbul and Dubrovnik.

La Nuova di Venezia says that the waiter, identified as Floriano Fernandes, assaulted the girl in a bathroom of the cruise ship but she successfully resisted the attempted rape. The following day, the ship called on Venice but the captain failed to report and/or delayed in accurately reporting the assault and attempted rape. In a report to the Coast Guard, the captain, identified as Ignatius Giardina, from Sicily, reportedly wrote that there Costa Fascinosawas no "extraordinary event" during the cruise. The Italian prosecutor alleged that the captain fraudulently misrepresented the fact that a crime had occurred on the ship and prosecuted him for not properly reporting it.     

Captain Giardina has worked for Costa for 36 years, first as a cadet back in1980, later as a staff captain and safety officer, and as a master for the last 16 years.   

The captain’s defense lawyer argued that "extraordinary event" referred to a navigation point of view, such as a collision, and was not referring to the attempted rape. The captain was acquitted of trying to cover the crime up. 

I first read about the assault on the Crew Center web site. 

Sexual assaults on girls and women are not uncommon on cruise ships and Costa ships in particular. In October of last year, the Italian press reported on an incident where a Costa crew member allegedly sexually molested a 15 year-old girl aboard the Costa Diadema.  Two months earlier, on the same Costa cruise ship, a bartender allegedly followed an 18 year-old French woman into her cabin and raped her.

In 2013, a female Costa security guard alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her supervisor who was permitted to fly back to his home country after the crime. She subsequently won a civil case against her employer.

This is the first case, however, where I have heard that an officer (master) of a cruise ship was prosecuted for allegedly not properly reporting an allegation of sexual assault. I have seen many scenarios where the cruise line tried to cover a rape up but I have never seen any prosecutor willing to levy such allegations in a criminal court against the master of a ship.   

Photo Credit:  By René Grob CC BY-SA 4.0.