CLIA - Stewards of the Maritime Environment?On the recent #WorldOceansDay which trended on Twitter this week, the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), and CLIA travel agents tweeted photos of pristine aqua-colored waters and a beautiful healthy reef in what appears to be an idyllic location somewhere in the Pacific.  

They posted tweets claiming to be "stewards of the environment."   

Well that is certainly open to debate. It seems to me that the cruise industry is nothing short of a menace to the ocean, air and reefs where it sails.

This is an industry which has historically treated the oceans as a dumping ground for human waste and garbage generated by its passengers. The dumping has continued to this day as MSC demonstrated two years ago when it was MSC Dumping Plastic Bagscaught dumping plastic bags into a marine sanctuary.

According to the Friends of the Earth (FOE) environmental group, "an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces about 21,000 gallons of sewage a day, enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools in a week. That adds up to more than one billion gallons a year for the industry, a conservative estimate, since some new ships carry as many as 8,800 passengers and crew. In addition, each ship generates and dumps about eight times that much "graywater" from sinks, showers and baths, which can contain many of the same pollutants as sewage and significantly affects water quality."

Consider what Royal Caribbean did to the ancient reefs around the port of Falmouth. In order to squeeze its gigantic. bunker-fuel-belching Allure and Oasis of the Seas into the tiny Jamaican port, it oversaw the obliteration of millions of cubic feet of ancient living coral which it pulverized and then dumped on acres of old mangroves (photo below). A reader sent me a Google Map showing the destruction of the barrier reef and the mangroves.

A large portion of the beautiful reefs in the Caymans (often damaged by cruise ship anchors and chains, photo below) are slated for destruction as another cruise-industry-beholden leader of a tourism-dependent-Caribbean island plans to dredge and fill to build a huge, monolithic concrete cruise pier in George Town harbor to try and accommodate the increasingly over-sized Miami-based monster cruise ships.

The cruise industry’s assault on the maritime environment is not limited to the powerless and poor Caribbean islands.  The cruise industry has literally targeted the far corners of the world.  In Cruise Ship Pollution: Cruise Sewage And Air Pollution A Rising Concern As Ships Sail Toward Northwest Falmouth JamaicaPassage, the International Business Times (IBT) reports that the cruise industry plans to try and send cruise ships through the Northwest Passage, a route newly opened by melting Arctic ice, even though "the colossal vessels may also bring sooty diesel emissions and swimming pools of sewage into a long-pristine environment."  

So which cruise line will be taking what the Daily Beast calls the "titanic risk" into the Arctic? It’s the notoriously polluter, Crystal Cruises, which will be heading to the Arctic in August. It sold out a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity in just three weeks. Approximately 1,000 passengers are paying about $22,000 each (excluding extras such as a $4,000 helicopter ride or a three-day, $6,000 excursion exploring a glacier) according to the Wall Street Journal.  From an environmental perspective, Crystal Cruises is considered by environmentalists as the "worst of the worse." It is one of four cruise lines to be given an "F" this year from the Friends of the Earth which issued its environmental report card yesterday. I suppose it is only fitting that such a cruise line would be the first cruise line to tear through the Arctic; if it can collect a minimum of $22,000,000 in cruise fares from one cruise into the virgin, pristine area, what else is important?  It is always about the money, right?   

Crystal Cruises will be forever known to environmentalists as the cruise line whose Crystal Harmony dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said didn’t have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, Carnival Cruise Line Crushes Coral Reef in Caymanssaid Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband.

"We didn’t break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise."

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

In the 2010 Green Report Card by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Crystal Cruises received the lowest grade, "F." Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded with hubris, saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A … if not an A+."

FOE’s latest environmental report card is below. The usual suspects, Crystal, Costa, MSC and P&O Cruises, have again received "F’s." All of the other lines, except Disney Cruises which received an "A-," received a "C" or "D."  

CLIA reacted to the bad grades of its cruise members like it always does, by attacking FOE.  The "dirty industry," as FOE rightfully calls it, defended itself like any carbon-based industry does when scrutinized by an environmental group concerned with global warming and the obvious degradation of the environment. The cruise industry scoffs at the FOE but the truth is that the industry can do much, much better. Kudos to Disney which again has led the way in sewage treatment and water compliance while demonstrating transparency in the process.

Photo Credit:

CLIA Cruise Forward PR Photo: Cruise Line International Association

Don Foster’s Dive Cayman via Cayman Compass

Friends of the Earth Report Card – Friends of the Earth 

Friends of the Earth Report Card  

Costa ConcordiaAn appellate court in Miami has ruled that Costa Concordia passengers, both U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents, cannot seek compensation in the U.S. for any injuries which they suffered arising out of the Concordia disaster in 2012.

Yesterday, the Third District Court of Appeal published its decision in Denise Abeid-Saba, et al. vs. Carnival Corp., Carnival PLC, Costa Crociere, S.p.A., Costa Cruise Lines, Inc., and Joseph Farcus Architect, P. A.

The appellate court was faced with two orders of trial courts in litigation filed shortly after the Costa Concordia disaster. The cases involved two groups of passengers: one case involved fifty-seven plaintiffs, of whom five are United States residents. The other case involved fifty-two plaintiffs, of whom seventeen are U.S. residents. Carnival moved to dismiss the cases based on the legal doctrine of "forum non conveniens," arguing that the U.S. is not an appropriate location to litigate the cases. In one case, the trial court ruled that both U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents were prohibited from pursuing their cases here in Miami. In the other case, the trial court permitted U.S. residents to continue to pursue their cases here in Miami. 

Long ago, we advised passengers on the ill fated cruise ship to either consider accepting Carnival’s minimal settlement offer or proceed to Genoa, Italy to make a legal claim against Costa and its parent company. Costa of course is based in Italy; the shipwreck, Italian Coast Guard and most of the witnesses and evidence are located there; and the passenger ticket requires that legal claims be pursued in Genoa which is the principal place of Costa’s business and the location where criminal proceedings were pursued against the infamous captain Schettino. It was our opinion that all of the factors favored the filing of cases in Italy and that there was little chance that a Florida court would entertain litigation here.

In a twenty-two page order, the appellate court ruled that none of the passengers, whether U.S. residents or not, could pursue their cases here in Miami or anywhere in the U.S. They must all pursue their cases in Italy where the accident occurred and most of the witness and evidence are located. You can read the twenty-two page opinion here

We previously warned that filing suit here was a long shot: Are Lawyers Taking Costa Cruise Survivors Into Dangerous Legal Waters?

The billion dollar Carnival corporation has escaped virtually all legal accountability for the disaster.

Photo Credit: By Soerfm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Costa DiademaAn Italian news station reports that a Costa crew member allegedly sexually molested a 15 yer old girl aboard the Costa Diadema.

The Costa crew member is described as a 50 year-old Honduran man employed on the cruise ship as a cleaner. Italian police arrested him and criminally charged him with sexually assaulted the girl in her cabin. The assault occurred yesterday while the ship was at the La Spezia terminal.

The Primocanale news station says that girl, who was traveling with her aunt and uncle, left the dinner table to return to her cabin. The crew member apparently entered her cabin and began to touch the child’s private parts and kiss her. The child broke free, escaped and told her aunt and uncle what happened.

Costa then notified the police who arrested the crew member. 

In August of this year, a Costa bar tender was arrested on charges on sexually assaulting an 18 year old passenger on the same cruise ship. 

Photo Credit: Luca Mauri licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia 

Costa Employee Marc Gregor GuinucudAn Italian newspaper reports today that a Costa crew member is accused of raping a young passenger aboard the Costa Diadema while the cruise ship was docked in Naples.

The newspaper says that a Costa bartender allegedly followed an 18 year-old French woman into her cabin and raped her brutally. 

The accused rapist is identified as 30 year-old Costa employee Mark Guinucud from Manila, Philippines.

Crew member Guinucud was supposed to fly back to the Philippines, but an Italian prosecutor reportedly blocked him from flying. The crew member was arrested and taken into police custody when the cruise ship arrived in the port of La Spezia.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday. Guinucud at this time is held in the prison of La Spezia.

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Photo Credit: Facebook

Costa FortunaA Norwegian television station is reporting that a woman went overboard today from what is described as an "Italian cruise ship" near Flåm, Norway.  The woman was critically injured.

TV 2 Nyhetene reports that the woman is 40 years of age and she went overboard after a violent episode with another person on the cruise ship. (Her age was subsequently updated to 52 years old). The station does not state whether she is a passenger or a crew member not does it state her nationality (She was later identified as Italian). 

The title of the article is "Kvinne kritisk skadet etter fall fra cruiseskip."  (Woman critically injured after falling from cruise ship).

The woman was quickly rescued after she was in the water for two to three minutes. She was unconscious when taken ashore to the hospital via helicopter

No one has been arrested. Police officers are investigating. 

The incident was brought to my attention by a crew member who identified the ship as the Costa Fortuna.  A person on the TV 2 Facebook page, who said she heard screaming and then a splash,  also says that the ship involved the Costa Fortuna.

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September 4 2015 Update:  The story finally reaches a U.S. newspaper. Woman wakes from coma to deny she jumped from cruise ship; attempted murder investigation opened.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia by Ed g2s Creative Commons 3.0; below ARNE VEUM /NTB SCANPIX via TV 2 Nyhetene and Bergens & Tidende  

Costa Fortuna

Costa Fortuna

 

Cruising for Trouble As the death toll increases in Tunis, the former Director of Princess Cruises says that cruise security was lax and the cruise lines failed to assess the danger associated with sailing passengers into Tunis.

Commander Mark Gaouette told IHS Maritime that cruise security measures for passengers should have been stronger.

"I believe the risk management process failed to properly assess the extremely volatile situation in North Africa," he said.

". . . at a minimum, more security should have been required for that excursion in the form of armed police or military escort, and armed presence at the museum itself."

Commander Gaouette is the author of "Cruising for Trouble: Cruise Ships as Soft Targets for Pirates, Terrorists and Common Criminals."   

The death and injury tally ranges around 17 dead and 20 to 25 passengers injured.

I remain amazed that the Costa captain piloted the Costa Fascinosa out of the port in Tunis and left 13 passengers behind, not knowing whether they were dead or injured. I can’t help but think of Costa Captain Schettino leaving passengers behind as he fled the sinking Concordia in Giglio. Do I have this wrong? To give the Fascinosa captain the benefit of the doubt, I can only assume that he may have been concerned that terrorists might attack the ship itself and slam RPG’s into it’s hull or gun their way up the gangway and look for hostages. In that sense, maybe it was prudent to escape the port as soon as possible, although it begs the question why Costa was there in the first place.    

MSC Cruises TunisYahoo Travel published an article titled How the Cruise Industry is Coping with ISIS Attacks on Passengers in Tunisia by Sid Lipsey / @sidlipsey. It includes comments which I made last month about the threat of terrorism in Tunis against cruise passengers. 

Why any cruise line would sail into Tunis is beyond me. In 2013 and 2014, many dozens of Tunisian soldiers were killed and even more injured in deadly attacks perpetrated by al-Qaeda and other Islamic fighters, according to an article titled Terror and Politics in Tunisia in the publication World Affairs. Tunisia is a major recruiting ground for ISIS. Recruits are trained in Iraq, Syria or Libya and then return to Tunisia radicalized.    

Costa and MSC have stated that they will not call on Tunisia in the foreseeable future. To me that’s like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, as the saying goes. Whether these cruise ships will actually stay away remains to be seen. We have seen cruise lines announce with great fanfare that they are leaving a Caribbean port after a cruise passenger or employee has been killed ashore. They always return after the media attention dies down.

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March 21 2015 Update: Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Seige – an article I wrote for Yahoo Travel.

 

Photo Credit: International Business Times 

 

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=35f9de68e637

Costa FascinosaNewspapers are reporting that several gunmen stormed a popular museum in Tunis, Tunisia today killing 17 tourists, as well as a police officer and Tunisian civilians. Some news accounts report that as many as two dozen people were also injured.

Two cruise ships were in port and had sent thousands of passengers into the city on excursions. CNN says that some of the cruise passengers were at the museum at the time of the attack. The Daily Mail reports that "a Tunisian tourist guide told how he ‘stared death in the face’ as terrorists opened fire on his clients in the attack which saw people shot as they exited cruise ship buses parked outside the museum."

CBS News says that the terrorists targeted tourist buses when they arrived at the museum. The terrorists, dressed in police uniforms, then opened fire on the tourists before they could reach the museum.   

According to the Italian newspaper, The Local, a Costa cruise ship, the Fascinosa, with 3,161 registered passengers, was docked in Tunis at the time of the attack. Costa issued the following statement:

"On the occasion of today scheduled call some guests on cruise on board our Costa Fascinosa had a tour in the city. All the shore excursions organized by Costa during today stop in Tunis have been Tunis Terror Attackimmediately recalled on board," the company said in a statement.   

CNN says that the MSC Splendida was also in Tunis at the time of the attack.

The Italian newspaper stated that the Bardo museum is visited regularly by tourists, with many disembarking from Mediterranean cruises. 

Commentators believe that the group is affiliated with an Islamic terrorist organization like ISIS. Tunisia is a major recruiting ground for ISIS. 

The siege was the most violent attack on tourists in over a decade.

Mail Online has dramatic photos and video of the attack.

Costa stated on its website that the Costa Fascinosa left the port of Tunis at 1:55 PM. Upon departure, the captain reported that 13 passengers had not returned to the ship

This is a scenario which we have been concerned about. Read our recent article:  Experts: ISIS Poses Terrorist Threat to Cruise Ships in Mediterranean.

March 19 2015 Update: USA Today reports that "MSC Cruises said nine passengers from the Splendida were killed, 12 injured and six unaccounted-for, according to the AP. The Costa Fascinosa said 13 passengers had not returned on board when the ship left the port."

March 20 2015 UpdateUpdate on Terror Attack Against Cruise Tourists in Tunis

March 21 2015Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Seige – an article I wrote for Yahoo Travel.

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Photo Credit: Bottom AFP

Costa neoRomanticaA number of newspapers in Europe are reporting that the Costa neoRomantica sustained damage which it encountered high winds and rough weather last Wednesday night. 

An Italian newspaper reported that the Costa cruise ship was hit by high waves (seven meters) raised by gusts of wind that exceeded 125 kilometers per hour. The neoRomantica was sailing from Trapani to Marseille when it was struck by violent gusts of wind.

The cruise ship had to drop one of its giant anchors and skip the port of Marseille. The neoRomantica had to dock in Savona. Costa has use buses to transport passengers from Savona to Marseilles. 

The Italian Crociere in Diretto blog and Facebook page contains accounts of the storm and photographs of the damage to the ship. Many cabins were flooded with water and there was a loss of power and black-out during the storm. Passengers were frightened and some had to stay in the hallways.

You can also read accounts of the storm in La Provence newspaper where passengers claimed that they were not kept informed by the captain or crew. 

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Photo Credit: Rosalba Scarrone Administrator Liveboat.it

A newspaper in the Caribbean reports that  Carnival’s Costa Fortuna cruise ship with over four thousand passengers and crew members was stuck the Road Harbour on the main Island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands after it arrived on the early morning of Sunday 22, 2015. 

The ship was scheduled to last Sunday at around 6:00 PM. However, the port authority says that it developed an unspecified "technical problem" while anchored in the harbor.

Costa FortunaA "technical problem" seems to be code for a mechanical issue with the ship’s engines and propulsion systems. Engineers flew to the port to assess the ship for repairs. 

Passengers have to be ferried into port. 

Carnival has not issued an official statement. 

AIS systems seem to show the cruise ship has sailed and is in St. John’s Antigua today. It looks like the ship sailed earlier this week to Philipsburg and St. Kitts.    

Anyone have information to explain what happened with this ship in Tortola?

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ed g2s

After a nineteen month long trial, the three judges presiding over the Costa Concordia trial sentenced Captain Francisco Schettino to sixteen (16) years in jail for manslaughter, causing the disaster and abandoning ship. The sentence was broken down as follows; ten (10) years for multiple counts of manslaughter, five (5) years for causing the shipwreck, and one (1) year for abandoning ship. Schettino was also sentenced to one month for making false communications to maritime authorities after the shipwreck.

During closing arguments, breaking down in tears, Schettino demonstrated little concern for the consequences of his recklessness other than feeling sorry for himself, saying that three years ago "I died along with the 32 others." Schettino’s defense lawyer said: "In these three years, Schettino has suffered the same as a 30-year sentence." His legal counsel argued that he was made a scapegoat by Francesco Schettinothe cruise line Carnival-Corporation-owned Costa Cruises.

The prosecutor described Schettino as an "idiot" and a "coward."

Costa paid a relatively small fine of 1.1 million dollars to avoid a criminal trial.

The prosecution sought 26 years in jail for Schettino. The defense requested a maximum of 5 years. The judges essentially split the difference with 16 years. Schettino is entitled to an automatic appeal of the sentence and is likely not to serve time in jail during the appeal.

The stock of Costa’s parent company, Carnival Corporation, is up today.

You can read our first article about the disaster here: Passengers Panic As Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Begins to Sink.

The question which I keep asking myself is what does the brother and parents of Costa crew member Russel Rebello think of the verdict

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Photo Credit: Reuters