A passenger on a cruise ship visiting Alaska last week had the measles, according to health officials at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, prompting concerns that other cruise passengers as well as air travelers may spread the virus.

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports that a teenager from Japan boarded the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship on August 6, 2018 for an Alaskan cruise, after flying from Tokyo to Vancouver a week earlier.

The cruise guest reportedly sailed aboard the Jewel which docked in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before the cruise ended in Seward, Alaska.

The newspaper states that before the cruise, the girl experienced a rash, fever and cold-like symptoms after she travelled to  Thailand. She apparently had not been vaccinated for measles, mumps, or rubella.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reportedly warned health care providers to look out for measles-like symptoms (rashes, runny noses, fevers, white spots and/or red eyes) from other passengers who may have contracted the disease.

The initial news accounts did not identify the cruise ship or cruise line with some accounts, like Radio Canada, mentioning only that an unnamed ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line was involved.

The cruise passenger had flown to and from Portland before she went on the cruise from Vancouver.

Health officials stated that they believe the girl boarded the cruise ship with her parents on the fourth day after her symptoms began, which suggests that she was not highly contagious. The disease apparently has an incubation period of 7-21 days. Anyone who may have contracted the virus is expected to show symptoms before August 27th.

The Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia noted that measles is a highly infectious airborne disease, although transmission is reportedly unlikely.

Four years ago, a crew member aboard an unidentified cruise ship sailing to Alaska developed measles leading to concern that he may have infected cruise passengers.  A cruise passenger contacted us, indicating that she and other passengers aboard the Norwegian Pearl may have been exposed to the virus.

Earlier, a measles outbreak has occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship; an Italian newspaper reported that that dozens of cruise passengers were probably infected with the virus that causes measles.

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

Photo credit: By A.jo Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

According to the Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda, a 27 year old passenger is accused of sexually assaulting a person on an unidentified cruise ship last Friday, August 10, 2018.

According to the article titled Cruise Passenger Accused of Sex Assault, a 27-year-old man from New Jersey, “who cannot be named for legal reasons,” pleaded not guilty of assaulting another guest on a cruise ship, in Magistrates’ Court in Bermuda yesterday. The assault is alleged to have happened on a cruise ship at the dockyard in Sandys, in the western part of Bermuda.

The criminal magistrate in Bermuda released the cruise passenger on a $10,000 bail on the conditions that he hand over his passport and avoid contact with his victim.

Bermuda has archaic procedures which purportedly prohibit newspapers from mentioning the name of alleged rapists or sexual offenders in the press. The newspapers also choose not to disclose the name of either the cruise line or the cruise ship involved in an alleged crime like this. There obviously is no such prohibition under U.S. law in naming rape suspects, and it serves no public purpose to hide the names of corporations, vessels or maritime employers when crimes occur during cruises.

Not coincidentally, Bermuda is one of the countries where cruise lines register their ships in order to avoid U.S. taxes and labor and safety laws.  Princess Cruises, for example, is incorporated in Bermuda.

Passengers who commit rapes during cruises to Bermuda often have to been extradicted back to the U.S. in order to face criminal charges. In September of last year, a 30 year old man from Mississippi allegedly raped a 15 year old boy. The crime was revealed only after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed criminal charges and extradicted the man back to the U.S. and issued press releases in the process.

As I mentioned in the article titled More Reefer Madness from Bermuda’s Kangaroo Courts, Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. Its press delights in publishing the names and photographs of vacationers, caught through the use of what would be illegal search procedures in the U.S., with a joint or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas (an issue the cruise line security should deal with).  But Bermuda seems indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals involved in violent crimes on Bermuda flagged ships. Criminal charges against crew members who are alleged to have committed sexual crimes are often dropped.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Photo credit: Google Maps

Rowan Moore, a journalist for The Guardian newspaper in London, used the words “misery machines” in describing giant cruise ships in an opinion piece last Sunday. He writes:

Giant cruise ships look to me like misery machines. They don’t make residents happy in the places they visit. They don’t make their crews happy, if you are to believe the recurring allegations of mistreatment of staff . . .”

I posted the article on Facebook and Twitter. The push back from cruise passengers was instant. “Cruise lines enjoy 93+% customer satisfaction. That’s better than chocolate companies!!” posted a Facebook follower, echoing the common view of cruising from the perspective of cruise fans.

That’s the common reaction on social media whenever I write about the harsh employment conditions which crew members face on cruise ships. Many cruise passengers who read this blog could not care less.

Unfortunately, the same seems to be true when it comes to members of the U.S. Congress. If the problem does not involve a local constituent, most members of Congress will not give you the time of day. The nativist / anti-immigrant mentality promoted by the current administration has made it more difficult to defend the rights of “foreign” (i.e., non-U.S.) crew members who comprise the overwhelming majority of cruise ship employees.

I’ve attended hearings in Washington D.C. regarding the issue of cruise safety where the cruise industry has testified that that 95% of people who cruise have a positive experience. No doubt. Pampered by cabin attendants, waiters and bartenders, cruise guests enjoy the unrealistically inexpensive cruise fares offered by a cruise industry which pays no taxes and escapes U.S. wages and labor regulations by registering their businesses and ships in places like Liberia, Panama and the Bahamas.

As long as the cruise leaves and returns on time and doesn’t break down in between, most cruise guests are not concerned about what happens behind the scenes, whether it is overworked, underpaid and stressed-out crew members or sludge illegally dumped at sea.

No one cares to take a satisfaction survey of crew members.

Life on board a foreign flagged behemoth is no box of chocolates for the crew, despite the high guest satisfaction rating. The Guardian’s “misery machines” expression was the first thing I thought of earlier this week when I read the articles which several readers of this blog sent me about the death of a twenty-two year old Serbian man on the Carnival Fascination.

The man was described as a 22 year-old Serbian man named Nikola Arnautovic.

How unbelievably sad that a young man of only 22 years, just one year younger and one year older than my own two boys, would end his life at such an age.

But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that suicides of crew members are hardly rare.

A British chef was found hanging in his cabin aboard the Crystal Serenity cruise ship several years ago.  Two weeks earlier, a safety officer on the Disney Dream committed suicide in a similar manner. And the day before that, a woman in Carnival’s entertainment department was found hanging in an officer’s quarters on the Carnival Sensation.

The popular Crew Center website, which first indicated that the recent death on the Carnival Fascination involved a crew member, reported that an Indian dishwasher on the Costa Magica was found hanging in his cabin in February 2017. A galley worker also committed suicide a few years earlier on the Island Princess by hanging.  He reportedly died in the first month of his first contract on the Princess Cruises’ ship. The Crew Center reported that, according to some crew members, he committed suicide because of the “enormous stress and pressure by his supervisors.”

Of course, most crew members do not end their lives by hanging themselves. Most ship employees who choose to end their lives do so by jumping overboard.  During a period of less than three years between December 2009 and October 2012, at least twelve crew members jumped overboard or simply disappeared from cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises. I wrote about the problem in an article titled “Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?”  The grueling schedule and long hours crew members are required to work 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of a 6 to 10 month contract, for far less than the U.S. minimum wage, often leave ship employees, who are already isolated from their families, exhausted and demoralized.

In the past decade, many dozens of crew members have jumped into the sea. The common reaction by guests is pointlessly “you can’t fall from a cruise ship” as if casting blame on the dead crew member will somehow solve the problem.

Mental health services for cruise ship employees are non-existent. And the  emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S. Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community. Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the “foreign” crew members receive is more than the workers can receive back home. “If they don’t like the work, they can quit” is the common saying.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the “safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority,” there seems to be little genuine expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

In the last week, yet another crew member disappeared from another cruise ship. He was a Filipino, by the name of  Rezan Monteroso from the M/S Amsterdam. Mr. Monteroso had been aboard the Amsterdam for just 5 days when he went overboard, leaving behind a wife and family with young children.

There are no news articles anywhere mentioning Mr. Monterosa’s name (or the names of dozens of other crew members who have gone overboard before him), or explaining the circumstances surrounding his last days or hours.

Mr. Monterosa’s disappearance seems altogether too familiar – the ship had no automatic man overboard system and the notification to the Coast Guard and ensuing search were unreasonably delayed; there were no discussions about the need for mental health counselling or support from the cruise line following the soon-to-be-forgotten story; HAL reportedly shut off the feeds to the monitors on the ship when the ship finally realized that Ms. Monterosa went overboard, leaving the passengers in the dark as to what happened to the crew member; there seemed to be more guests asking about compensation for the “inconvenience” of a delayed arrival at the next port than any inquiry regarding why the Filipino employee went overboard in the first place. And no one seems to be making any efforts to even discuss making changes to reduce the likelihood of losing additional crew members at sea like this.

As matters now stand, crew members from around the world, from places like Serbia and the Philippines, have little support from the cruise industry and none from the U.S. government. It seems that when crew members jump overboard or hang themselves, the cruise lines couldn’t care less either, as long as it doesn’t affect their customer’s satisfaction rating.

Rest in Peace Mr. Monterosa and Mr. Arnautovic and prayers to your surviving families and friends.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo credit: M/S Amsterdam – Crew Center

Last week, a senior vice president of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) spoke to the residents of Rockland, Maine, in an effort to try and convince them that cruise lines will be respectful of Rockland’s environment.

We wrote about the meeting in our article titled CLIA visits Rockland.

Several residents brought to my attention a claim made by Brian Salerno, CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, that the sludge from cruise ship smokestack scrubbers (designed to reduce emissions, primarily sulfur),  is stored onboard and offloaded, allegedly, only at facilitates ashore. He promised that the cruise industry would not dump the sludge overboard,  where the particulate matter and sulfur sludge obviously would pollute the water and foul the local beaches and port facilities.

The CLIA representative said that the cruise ship scrubber processing equipment “ultimately collects sludge” which “has to be disposed of properly ashore.”

You can hear Mr. Salermo make these precise statements to the Rockland residents here.

As I suspected, the CLIA representative’s comments appear to be patently false.

As cruise expert Professor Ross Klein points out on his CruiseJunkie site, a cruise ship recently (just last week) discharged scrubber sludge into the state waters of Alaska.  Professor Klein cites the recent article by KRBD Community Radio in Ketchikan, Alaska which reported that on July 23rd, port personnel from the City of Ketchikan observed discharge coming from the exhaust system scrubbers on the Star Princess cruise ship when it was at a berth in the port in Ketchikan.  This sludge discharge followed complaints by the public of an earlier discharge from the Golden Princess cruise ship. The city directed the ships to cease discharging scrubber processing waste while in port.

You can see a photograph of the sludge discharged in port here.

These actions directly contradict the statements by CLIA that it never discharges sludge from smokestack scrubbers into the water and, further, that CLIA cruise ships discharge nothing while a ship is in or near port.  Mr. Salerno made a point of claiming that cruise lines promise not only to comply with federal and international pollution regulations but they claim to always exceed these standards. He claimed that this is a mandatory CLIA requirement and a condition of membership in the cruise trade organization.

It should be noted that not only did cruise ships recently discharge scrubber sludge in the local waters of Alaskaa but the discharge occurred from cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises which was involved in prior incidents of widespread illegal discharges.  Princess of course, is the cruise line which illegally discharged oily waste from its fleet of cruise ships for nearly a decade and was fined $40,000,000 by the DOJ. (Princess Cruises, owned by parent company Carnival Corporation, of course, remains a member of CLIA).  The Star Princess and the Golden Princess (among other cruise ships operated by Princess) were both implicated in Princess’ notorious use of “magic pipes” to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitors in the required pollution prevention equipment.

The Port and Harbors director in Ketchikan informed KRBD that the discharge from scrubbers may technically be permitted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, although the discharge may have violated the state water quality regulations of Alaska.

CLIA made a big deal during its meeting with the residents of Rockland of stating that CLIA promised not only to comply with U.S. and international pollution standards but to never discharge anything within the state territorial waters where it sails its cruise ships.

This is reminiscent of an incident in 2003 when a cruise ship operated by Crystal Cruises dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. Crystal had promised earlier not to foul the marine sanctuary’s waters.

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal said that it 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, said a Crystal spokesperson, 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.

The residents of Rockland would be wise to learn a lesson from Monterey 15 years ago and from Ketchikan just last week.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Crystal Harmony – rpieket – CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A resident of New Jersey has been arrested and charged with taking an “upskirt” picture of a girl on a cruise ship.

The United States’s office recently released a press statement alleging that cruise passenger Jeffrey Goldstein violated a “voyeurism” statute, which prohibits the photographing of a person’s private area without consent when that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

According to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in New Jersey, the 31-year-old man went on a cruise ship from Bayonne, New Jersey to Bermuda  on July 8 when he approached a 13-year-old girl who was standing on the deck of the cruise ship, facing toward the water. He placed his iPhone under the child’s dress without her knowledge or permission and then walked away.

Another cruise passenger observed Goldstein taking the photograph and notified the cruise ship personnel who, in turn, reviewed surveillance video and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI later obtained a search warrant and downloaded the contents of Goldstein’s iPhone and found the photo of the girl, along with 42 other similar “up-skirt” images.

Goldstein faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He appeared on the voyeurism charge before a federal judge in Newark federal court on Wednesday and was was released on a $25,000 bond.

The press release from the U.S. attorney’s office did not reveal the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the crime took place. Taking secret “upskirt” photos and video voyeurism in public places obviously occurs everywhere and can and does occur on cruise ships as well.

Last year, a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy located a spy camera and transmitter in his family’s cabin.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

A pastor from North Las Vegas was killed on Monday, July 30th in a canoe excursion accident during a cruise to Alaska, according to several news sources.

50-year-old Steven Todd Willis and his wife were reportedly on a cruise to Alaska celebrating the first anniversary of their marriage.

The news accounts state that an excursion company was taking, what has been reported to be, between nine and eleven passengers on a canoe tour when their canoe overturned in rapids.  Four people were reportedly reported missing.

The incident occurred nine miles south of Haines. The first news account states that the canoe was being used for a guided tour for passengers from three different unidentified cruise ships.

One news account reports that one of the passengers was unresponsive at the scene. First responders reportedly performed CPR, but the passenger remained unconscious. Another account states that the passenger had sunk in deep water and could not be retrieved.

A third account states that the Coast Guard dispatched a Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka to search for the missing members of the tout.  A Coast Guard crew reportedly pulled the body of  Mr. Willis from the Davidson Glacier River, according to KTNV News.

KTNV states that “everyone on board wore life jackets.”

The owner of the excursion company, identified as AlaskaX Excursions, told the Skagway News that he has been cooperating with the authorities involved and will be conducting an investigation into the fatality.

KHNS FM reports that this excursion company “employs about 20 people year-round and 150 seasonal guides, running five tours around Haines, Skagway, and Juneau. That includes a canoe tour at Glacier Point, where they boat up to 15,000 cruise passengers each summer from Skagway to where the Davidson Glacier calves into a lake.”

KHNS further states that, according to an Alaska assembly member,  “there have been specific, and credible, and very damning accounts” of the excursion company’s poor safety record, reportedly referring to a dozen former employees who have lodged complaints about the company’s operations.  “They say the company prioritizes profit over the safety of employees and guests.”

The news articles do not state which cruise ship Mr, Willis and his wife had taken to Alaska.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Read:

One Dead, 10 Safe After Canoe Overturns Near Haines via Juneau Empire.

Safety Complaints From Former Employees Pile Up Against Skagway Tour Company. via KHNS FM.

 

 

Today I awoke to the weird news that Carnival Cruise Line will re-name the nineteen-year old Carnival Triumph the Carnival Sunrise, after spending around $200 million on “new amenities including bars, restaurants, water slides, bigger suites, a comedy club and other attractions,” according to the Miami Herald.

The Herald explains that the Carnival Sunrise will join the Carnival “Sunshine Class” as a sister to the Carnival Sunshine, which was formerly the Carnival Destiny, which underwent a renovation in 2013 costing around $155 million.

The renovation of the Triumph into the Sunrise reportedly will begin on March 1st in Cadiz, Spain and take two months.

The amazing thing about the Miami Herald’s article was that it never mentioned the infamous “Poop Cruise,” a nickname which the media placed on the Tiumph  after its engine room caught fire, the cruise ship lost power in the Gulf of Mexico, and the ship had to be towed back to the United States.

Litigation against Carnival revealed that the cruise line grossly neglected the maintenance of the cruise ship. The lawsuits were predictably unsuccessful, however the damage to Carnival’s reputation was already done.

The Wikipedia article on the Carnival Triumph contains little other than a description of the fire, the disgusting conditions which the Carnival guests faced, and the highly publicized slow tow back from Mexican waters whch played out daily on cable news.

Carnival may rename the Triumph the Sunrise after it spends $200 million for renovations, but it will always be known as the “poop cruise” ship by those with a memory.

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

Photo credit: Getty Images via the Daily Mail

The Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) attended a town hall type of meeting in Rockland, Maine last Friday, July 27th. Brian Salerno, CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, was tasked by CLIA to try and convince the local Rockland residents that cruise lines were respectful of Rockland’s environment.

I was not at the meeting but several people who were present at the City Hall Chambers asked me what I think about CLIA’s claim that it is committed to protecting the air and water in the locations where its member cruise ships sail and unload thousands of their guests.

My response is that cruise lines, the likes of Carnival, NCL or Royal Caribbean, can’t be trusted. After all, they are all, literally, corporate felons with histories of lying about environmental pollution to the Coast Guard and the ports where they do business.

History Has a Tendency to Repeat Itself

In 2002, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea. Carnival reportedly routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.

In 2002, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) also pled guilty to the felony of routinely circumventing its oily water separator, dumping oily bilge directly into the ocean on a regular basis, and falsifying its record keeping. NCL admitted that it engaged in a practice of “systematically lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years.” The DOJ issued a fine of only $1,500,000, primarily because NCL admitted its wrongdoing, rather than continuing to lie and scheme like Carnival.

Starting in the late 1990’s, the U.S. Coast Guard caught Royal Caribbean engaged in widespread dumping of oil and chemicals. The DOJ fined the cruise line $1,000,000. After Royal Caribbean was caught repeatedly illegally dumping oily discharges and chemicals and lying about it, the DOJ fined it $8,000,000 and then fined it an additional $18,000,000 for a total of $27,000,000.

Carnival’s subsidiary brands have not fared any better than the parent company. In 1998, Holland America Line was fined $2,000,000 after it was caught discharging oily water without the use of an oil-water separator. And of course more recently (in December of 2016), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises a record $40,000,000 for pollution and trying to cover it up.

You can also consider trusting an industry where cruise ships often use the oceans as a place to discard plastic rubbish bags, as shown in this video a concerned crew member sent me from a MSC cruise ship.

You Can’t Get Kicked Out of this Club

It is with this background, I am responding to  several residents who asked me about Mr. Salerno’s claim, reported in the Penoscob Bay Pilot, that CLIA has the authority to expel members from the organization who do not abide by relevant environmental regulations.

But that’s hardly true. Consider the recent wide-spread pollution where Princess plead guilty to multiple felony charges of illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess cruise ships which sailed to numerous U.S. states (Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and two territories (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Caribbean Princess had been illegally discharging oil since 2005 using bypass equipment, sometimes called a “magic pipe,” to circumvent pollution-prevention equipment that separates oil and monitors oil levels in the ship’s water.

You can read the disturbing facts and the cruise line’s decade-long deception in the article titles Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

If there ever were a compelling reason to oust a cruise line from CLIA, it was Princess’ outlandish pollution and even more outrageous lies and cover up. CLIA chose to do nothing.

How Do Cruise Lines Handle Sludge?

Mr. Salerno also claimed at the meeting in Rockland that all sludge from cruise ship smokestack scrubbers (designed to reduce emissions, primarily sulfur) is held onboard and offloaded ashore only at designated facilitates ashore.  I know that the cruise industry previously discharged the sludge at sea, a nasty practice which substantially increases the presence of carbon dioxide.  And I have a hard time believing that the cruise lines would have changed their practice without there being a law requiring it.

I would like to hear from crew members with knowledge regarding this issue. Perhaps an environmental officer can communicate with me. We promise to keep all such communications with concerned employees confidential.

How do the cruise ships really handle sludge?

It seems that the good people of Rockland deserve a straight-forward response.

Interested in this issue? We suggest reading: Royal Caribbean Treats Rockland Like a $1 Store.

Listen to an audio of the meeting here.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Reproduced from an original postcard published by the Hugh C. Leighton Company, Portland, Maine, Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

 

 

A crew member leading cruise guests from Hapag Lloyd CruisesMS Bremen was injured by a bear during a cruise excursion north of Norway yesterday, according to many news accounts.

The polar bear attacked the cruise employee, who was acting as a “polar bear guard,” on Saturday July 28, 2018  during a cruise excursion by the German cruise line into an Arctic archipelago. The polar bear was then shot dead by another employee, according to a representative of Hapag Lloyd.

The Joint Rescue Coordination for Northern Norway tweeted that the attack occurred when the cruise tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship landed on northern island of the Svalbard archipelago , which is  between Norway and the North Pole – a remote area known for glaciers, reindeer and polar bears.

The majority of people reacted on Twitter saying that that it is irresponsible to sell excursions to cruise tourists into the natural habitat of such remote locations.  Although they are shy and prefer to avoid confrontations with humans, bears are still expected to react aggressively when protecting their cubs and/or food sources.

The polar bear was shot dead “in an act of self-defense” by the second guard, according to the cruise line spokeswoman.

The Norwegian rescue helicopter flew the injured crew member by helicopter to the town of Longyearbyen.  The cruise employee’s injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.

There initially was confusion in the news accounts whether a cruise employee or a cruise guest was injured.

Cruise ships traveling in this region reportedly are obliged to have polar bear guards on board if they offer excursion tours into the archipelago for their guests. according to CBS News.

Arctic tourism to the region reportedly has risen recently;  18 cruise ships will be docking at the Arctic port of Longyearbyen in the next week alone.

I think British celebrity Ricky Gervais summed best when he tweeted:

Original information via the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Three tears ago today,  the Freedom of the Seas caught on fire.

When we learned that the Freedom was on fire while heading to port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we called a former client who lives near the port (in Montego Bay) and asked him to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, here on our blog, which was viewed by over a million people on Facebook within two days. We also posted other images of the fire and the passengers mustering to prepare to abandon the fire-stricken ship.

So when Royal Caribbean tried to spin the story, with a misleading statement by its CEO that the fire was allegedly “small and quickly extinguished,” the public could make their own assessment regarding the size and ferocity of the fire. All of the major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) carried the video on their news programs and the international media included the video on their multi-media presentations.

The public was left with the impression that the cruise line was either completely out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or that it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean “Small Fire” Hoax.

One crew member was seriously burned by the fire although no passengers were injured. The fire on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship occurred at a time when Carnival cruise ships, it seemed, were igniting on an all too frequent basis.

Passengers sent us copies of videos which they took of the large fire.

Neither the flag state nor the classification society nor the vessel’s underwriters not the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a survey of the damage before the ship continued its cruise and no one began to conduct an investigation into the root cause of the fire.  As we wrote soon after the fire, Royal Caribbean had hired a engineering group in install a scrubber system which involved extensive welding operations while the ship was underway, rather than conduct such dangerous work during a dry dock.

Read: Fire on the Freedom: The Show Must Go On.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Raymond Bower.