Roatan Pier MAC ArmoniaThe MSC Armonia crashed into the dock in Roatan, Honduras today, according to videos which were posted on Youtube. The MSC cruise ship is shown coming into the port at a higher than normal rate of speed. In addition to the vesel damage, there was significant damage to the pier.

There are several videos of the incident.

Some of the videos show damage to the ship along the forward, port side of the ship.

I first saw the video on the popular gCaptain site.

The incident is reminiscent of an incident in Alaska when the Celebrity Infinity struck a wharf in Ketchikan two years ago.

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Video credit: Nessy Warren; photo – La Prensa

https://youtube.com/watch?v=vQzs_bzHuAY%3Frel%3D0

 

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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Multiple news sources are reporting that at least twelve people died when a bus carrying anywhere from twenty-seven to thirty-one cruise passengers on an excursion to Mayan ruins in eastern Mexico flipped over on a highway earlier today. Additional cruise passengers, with some sources suggesting up to eighteen people, were also injured in the accident.

The excursion bus was heading from Costa Maya to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The majority of the passengers were reportedly from the Serenade of the Seas.

The photos and videos of the incident show many passengers lying in the road or beside the overturned bus, indicating that many people in the bus may not have been furnished with working seatbelts and they were ejected when the bus overturned. Unfortunately, we have seen this situation in other cruise line excursion bus cases, including those operated on behalf of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises.

There have been a large number of excursion bus accidents involving Royal Caribbean and its sister Mexico Excursion Bus Crashcruise line, Celebrity Cruises.

In 2015, Celebrity passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed and injured in an excursion bus accident in Tortola.

In 2012, there were two cruise excursion bus crashes in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers. Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Serenade of the Seas were injured during an excursion in St. Thomas. A Royal Caribbean sponsored excursion tour bus crashed in St. Martin and injured passengers from the Freedom of the Seas.

In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article “Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami.”

Cruise lines face legal liability when passengers are injured or killed during sponsored excursions. Cruise lines have a duty to vet the excursions companies and warn of dangers in the road conditions and driving in foreign ports of call. Cruise lines can also be held responsible for negligent hiring and retention of the transportation companies and for vicarious liability based on theories of agency.

You can search this blog for other discussions of numerous cruise ship excursion bus accidents.

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

The Miami Herald quotes our firm in 12 reported dead as tourist bus crashes in Mexico.

December 20, 2017 Update:  A local newspaper in Mexico writes that 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 . . .”  ABC Radio reported the acccount of a passenger who travelled to the same excursion site, saying … “one of the sides of the bus was ‘smashed’ after it fell on its side and that the ‘whole windshield was gone . . . “The seat belts were tied below the seats, so no one told us to put the seat belts on . . . ‘”

A Mexican newspaper quoted the national police that the death toll has increased: “there were 15 deaths, 14 tourists and 1 Mexican guide, 11 died on the spot and 4 on the way to the hospital.”

The Washington Post reoports that a Mexican state prosecutor alleges that the deadly bus crash was caused by the driver’s negligence and excessive speed of the bus.

Photo credit: TV AZTECA (top); Video image –  7 cty youtube (middle); video – AP via Miami Herald (bottom).

Mexico Royal Caribbean & Celerity Cruises Bus Excusion Accident

 

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Celebrity SummitVirgin Islands News Online reports that at least two cruise passengers have been killed and many other passengers injuired on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to Cane Garden Bay beach today in Tortola, British West Indies. 

According to this news report, the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill. 

The newspaper says that the roadway was steep and wet but it does not state how or why the accident occurred.

The cruise passengers were from the Celebrity Summit. Royal Caribbean has tweeted: "We are saddened to report the deaths of two Celebrity Summit guests after a local bus accident in Tortola. Several others are being treated." It earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.  

This is not the first time that cruise passengers from Celebrity’s Summit cruise ship have been seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: "Celebrity Summit" by Yankeesman312 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary factual report finding, as anticipated, that visibility was limited when the excursion flightseeing plane operated by Promech crashed in Alaska.

The  NTSB described that the pilot was operating under visual flight rules during “marginal visual meteorological conditions.” 

You can read one of our prior articles on the crash here

Video credit KTUU.

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Promech Excurion Crash - HALCruise passengers from the Westerdam and the Noordam Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships were on three Promech excursion flighseeing planes on the fateful day of June 25th when 8 HAL passengers died.

These passengers experienced substantially similar experiences regarding the weather conditions as the dead passengers.  They experienced the same or very similar flight conditions as the doomed excursion plane. They are familiar with the cruise line’s cancellation policy. At least one couple tried to cancel the flight but were told by HAL that it would access a cancellation fee of around $450 per person. So they didn’t cancel because of the extreme penalty. They flew on one of the Promech planes which took off before the plane which crashed. They can tell the investigators exactly what their flight was like.

All of the passengers completed post excursion questionnaires.  

All of these passengers should be questioned by the NTSB.  

HAL should turn over copies of all of the passenger questionnaires to the NTSB. 

Most of these passengers have never been contacted by the NTSB.

If you were a passenger who flew on a Promech flightseeing excursion on June 25th in Ketchikan, we recommend that you do the following five things:

  1. Call the NTSB to the attention of Clint Johnson, NTSB Alaska, office line 907-782-4842.
  2. Contact HAL and ask for a copy of the questionnaire you completed. Once you obtain it (if HAL cooperates), fax it to the NTSB.
  3. Maintain custody of any photos or video you took on the day in question, and send copies of the weather conditions, aircraft. etc. and any images taken from the excursion plane to the NTSB as well. 
  4. Keep all of the documentation regarding the excursion in question which you received from HAL or Promech.
  5. Encourage others on the excursion to do so too. 

Keep a copy of everything you receive and everything you write. 

It’s very important. Thanks.

Photo Credit:  U.S. News

The Holland America Line (HAL) excursion staff on the Westerdam is in an uproar after Yahoo Travel published an article yesterday containing criticisms of its excursion policies and procedures. I was quoted in the article. I characterized HAL’s policy of assessing a 100% penalty against cruise passengers who cancel a seaplane excursion more than 3 days before the cruise as dangerous and irresponsible.

An officer on the cruise line left comments here claiming he was "deeply offended," first, by my criticism of the reckless HAL policy and, secondly, because I didn’t retract my comments and apologize to him personally. Other crew members and HAL fans howled in protest that criticisms were levied against the Westerdamcruise line. 

The arrogance of the cruise lines never ceases to amaze me. 

Hurt feelings of an officer on a cruise ship is perhaps the last thing I am thinking of in a tragic case where 8 innocent passengers have lost their lives and their families are grieving enormously. 

All victims deserve nothing less than an exhaustive investigation, detailed analysis and vigorous debate regarding what happened. But the cruise lines never (ever) release the  results of their investigation voluntarily. After their PR department expresses condolences, the cruise lines’ defense attorneys go to work defending the cruise lines and casting blame on others whenever they can.

The cruise lines prefer that no one discusses what most likely happened. They personally attack critics. HAL thrives on these tactics, as I have learned before

But the unfortunate truth is that cruise lines are not proactive in making changes to their safety policies. Their guests and crew members have to be injured or killed before they do the right thing. The Costa Concordia had to happen before Carnival-owned Costa would stop its reckless policy of sailing dangerously close to the shore in what is called a "salute" or a "fly-by." 32 people had to die and thousands had to be terrorized before Carnival stopped this stunt. 

The Carnival-owned Triumph had to be hauled across the Gulf of Mexico and CNN devote non-stop coverage to the disgusting spectacle before the cruise line would install splash guards to prevent fuel and oil lines from spraying over the engines and erupting in fire. 

Dozens of cruise passengers from the Carnival-owned Fascinosa had to be gunned down when terrorists waited for them to exit from an excursion bus in Tunis before Carnival / Costa would begin to take the threat of terrorism seriously.  

Carnival-owned HAL has a current policy of penalizing its guests if they try and cancel an air excursion during the cruise. A couple arriving in Ketchican near the end of a cruise, seeing that the skies were overcast and visibility was poor, are faced with a penalty of the cost of the excursion (hundreds of dollars) if they thought it looked unsafe to fly. 

This greedy policy, combined with HAL’s claim that it deferred to the air excursion company whether it was safe to fly in weather that even a child would feel is unsafe, placed the passengers in danger.  Flying Westerdam Excursion Crashin Alaska is fraught with peril on the best appearing days, because it is by flight-vision-only in circumstances where the weather can change quickly and visibility can degrade without notice.

What were hesitant cruise passengers told? The fog will lift? Don’t worry. The weather will improve? This is the "misty fjords" excursion to see "misty" fjords after all?

Will HAL be forced to scrap this risky policy?  Will guests be permitted to cancel without penalty? Will the cruise line cancel the flights when the weather is potentially dangerous and forego the money? Will the cruise lines appoint an independent ombudsman to prohibit excursions from flying when prudence demands caution?  

If any changes are made, it will be only because 8 passengers lost their lives and the cruise line has to deal with the PR debacle, not because the cruise line is being proactive and prudent.

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June 30 2015 Update:  Cruise Law News challenges Holland America ("All bush pilots and planes in Alaska are under more scrutiny now. And that’s a good thing. It should lead to better safety. But to make things that much better, we hope cruise lines think about Cruise Law News recommendations.")

Photo Credit: Becky Bohrer / AP

The Daily Mail identifies the names of the 8 cruise passengers and the pilot killed in the "flightseeing" excursion in Alaska. The HAL passengers were from California, Nevada, Oregon and Maryland.

The Alaska Dispatch News takes a look at this type of excursion and describes it as a "lucrative subset" of the cruise industry.  

Yahoo Travel published an article today and discussed the dangers associated with flying in unregulated HAL - Promech Air Crashairspace in bad weather with limited visibility. I was interviewed for the article and I conveyed the thoughts of many residents and cruise passengers who have been on this type of excursion before:

Maritime lawyer Jim Walker points out that there is tremendous pressure exerted by the cruise lines and the excursion companies to fly, notwithstanding poor weather, in order to maximize profits. “I have heard many complaints from Alaskan residents and cruise passengers that excursion planes and helicopters routinely take off in poor weather with very limited visibility,” Walker told Yahoo Travel. “The cruise passengers cannot cancel if the weather is bad without a penalty.”

According to Walker, many excursion policies state that there is a 100 percent cancellation fee if a passenger cancels within three days of sailing. “It’s a tough choice — lose your excursion fee or risk your life,” says Walker. “This is an unreasonable and irresponsible policy. Profits over safety.”

You can read our first article about this ordeal here

Photo Credit: Promech via worldairlinenews

Holland America Line Flight Seeing TourNewspapers are reporting that 8 Holland America Line (HAL) cruise passengers were killed today when the sightseeing airplane they booked through HAL crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Seattle PI newspaper reports that the pilot of the charter plane and all eight cruise passengers died when the plane crashed about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan. The aircraft reportedly hit the granite rock face of a southeast Alaska cliff.

The Alaska Dispatch News says that the passengers were from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship. They reportedly booked an excursion through the cruise line to go sightseeing on a turboprop de Havilland Otter "floatplane" operated by Promech Air, a charter  service in Southeast Alaska.

The video below shows the weather conditions at the time of the crash.

You can see the video advertisements for the HAL "flightseeing" excursion sold by the cruise line here (June 26, 2015 update: HAL has deleted the web info for this particular excursion).

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A commuter ferry slammed into a dock in lower Manhattan this morning during rush hour, injuring more than 50 people commuting into New York City. Newspapers report that at least two of the ferry passengers were critically injured.

CBS News states that the accident involved the Seastreak Wall Street. The New York Times states that the ferry is operated by Sea Streak Ferry, and provides daily service from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. It can accommodate several hundred passengers. There were over 300 SeaStreak Wall Street Ferry Crash in Manhatten passengers aboard at the time of the accident.

At the time of the impact the ferry was proceeding at a high rate of speed (with one passenger estimating around 60 MPH) when it violently struck the pier. Scores of people who had been standing up and waiting to disembark were hurled to the deck, into poles and walls, and down stairs. 

Some people described the accident like a big car crash.

57 people were reportedly injured according to the New York Times which showed dramatic photographs of passengers lying on flatboards with their heads and necks immobilized.

The Times mentions compares this incident to the October 15, 2003, accident when a Staten Island Ferry hit a maintenance pier at full speed, killing 11 and injuring 70 people.  A pilot, who had been incapacitated at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The investigators also faulted training and enforcement of safety rules. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating and gathering information about this latest incident. 

You can review the Seastreak’s website here and its twitter page here.  One of the last tweets on Seastreaks page is by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg "Thanks to @SeaStreakNJNYC  . . . residents of the #Rockaways have an affordable & reliable way to get to #Manhattan."

Photographs of the scene in lower Manhattan look like a war zone:

Seastreak Wall Street Crash

Photo credit: Mark Lennihan / AP via New York Times.