Last year, crew members aboard the Cunard QM2 notified me that while the Cunard cruise ship was between Southampton and New York, a 26-year-old chef, whose name I later learned was Favio Onate, disappeared in the early hours of August 15, 2015.  I wrote a short article Cunard Crew Member Lost at Sea, which was short on details but contained many comments from his co-employees who spoke highly of the young chef who perished at sea that foggy morning.

Later it was revealed from comments from crew members that Favio had been observed drinking but had been put to bed in his cabin. However, Favio was not seen by the ship doctor nor supervised by ship security. He later left his cabin and went to an open deck where he acted erratically and allegedly went overboard. 

FavioOnate QM2 Cruise Disappearance269 people have gone overboard since 2000. A small number are rescued but the majority are not and their bodies are not recovered.

Cruise lines, I have found, do a poor job of notifying the surviving family members of the devastating news of a missing loved one. They often delay. Many times family member first learn of the loss of their loved ones from newspapers or on social media. Cruise lines don’t provide basic information. They seem to think that they have the right to suppress the information that the family members desperately need in order to understand what happened and try to come to terms of what happened.

From the perspective of the families, cruise lines do an even poorer job investigating the circumstances surrounding the person’s disappearance at sea. Cruise line investigations are often managed by the cruise line’s legal and risk management departments which appear more interested in protecting the legal interests and image of the cruise industry.  

Cruise lines often quickly blame the overboard person, thus stopping any legitimate investigation once they have affixed a label of "suicide at sea" on the nightmare. Investigating authorities at the next port are often to quick to adopt the conclusions reached by the cruise line and rarely conduct investigations which can be called either independent or comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination.

Many people commenting on social media are quick to say that it is impossible to fall off a cruise ship. They are often quick to hurl insults attacking the intelligence of those lost at sea. But these people don’t ask intelligent questions themselves inquiring into the working conditions on the ships or other factors which may have led the crew members to go over the rails or the apparent lack of medical and HR resources which could help people suffering from emotional issues on the high seas.

All of this results in the surviving families feeling cheated by the cruise lines which are often, and rightfully, accused of engaging in a cover up of the truth.  Cruise lines never permit their employees to answer questions regarding what happened or release reports from the ship and often refuse to produce the last CCTV images of the person connected with his or her disappearance.  

This is what Favio’s family and cousins apparently felt after they could not obtain information regarding the details of what happened to Favio. News accounts say that Cunard claims to have been in regular contact with Favio’s family. The cruise line says that it arranged for "a trip for his parents and sister to the UK to receive information about the circumstances surrounding the incident." When cruise lines communicate with family members, the information is often conclusory and without an explanation of the details of what happened on the ship. Favio’s family were not satisfied and filed a legal request to inspect the QM2 when it arrived in a port in Chile and take statements from the vessel’s captain and crew members. Fox News Latino reports that the judiciary in Chile, where Favio is from, issued a warrant on Tuesday for police to search the QM2, which docked on Wednesday in port of Valparaiso. 

The Fox news source say that the legal procedure will seek to "locate, individualize, and take depositions" from the captain and any witnesses among the crew who "saw or knew anything about the incident under investigation." The newspaper also said that the "police will check out the cruise ship’s security cameras, make a photographic record of the scene of the incident, and carry out a . . . examination of the cabin where the chef slept and of the elevators, decks, cabins and restrooms used by the staff.

The Daily Mail added that the police seized the relevant CCTV images and forensic experts inspected the chef’s cabin and deck where he went overboard.

The family held a demonstration at the port with huge banners which read: "Justice for Favio" (video) with friends handing out pamphlets in different languages in order to show the passengers that the friends and family "still have doubts and very little information about Favio’s disappearance."

A number of radio and television stations covered the spectacle in Chile.

Its a sad commentary on how Cunard treated Favio’s family to have to seek legal intervention for George Smith Disappearancepolice and prosecutors to board the QM2 to basic information regarding the circumstances surrounding Favio’s last moments.

The highly publicized court-ordered vessel inspection reminds me of the investigation and vessel inspection of the Brilliance of the Seas which we conducted following the disappearance of George Smith III back in July of 2005. After not receiving adequate information from Royal Caribbean, we hired forensic scientist Henry Lee and boarded the cruise ship with a team of seven forensic experts, videographers and detectives when the ship ported in Miami in December 2005. 

Over ten years later, cruise lines continue to withhold information from grieving families who are forced to board the cruise ship with police officers to try and find out what happened to their missing loved ones.

Photo Credit: Reseg

small fire reportedly broke out in the gas turbine exhaust of the QM2 on December 12th. It was quickly extinguished although the cruise ship temporarily lost power.

One of the cruise ship pods also malfunctioned and the ship was briefly delayed in Lisbon to address this problem. 

The QM2 is headed now back to the U.K. and on Tuesday, June 15th will be headed on a trans-Atlantic voyage to New York.  

Photo Credit: "Queen Mary 2 outbound from Southampton 2 Sept 2013" photographed by Brian Burnell with permission was uploaded to Commons by George Hutchinson.Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia. 

QM2 Ocean Liner

In the last couple of weeks I’ve posted photographs of the crew mess on a number of cruise ships. Some of the photos are gross, Some of the photos don’t seem too bad. One crew member said the food on the Queen Victoria was great.

Today a crew member on the Queen Elizabeth sent me these photographs, which I posted on our Facebook page.  They seem to fall into the "yuck" category. A main criticism seems to be repetitive meat dishes, tasteless vegetables and an absence of fresh fruit.   

Cruise Ship FoodThe crew member made an interesting comment when he sent the photos:

"One day we had David Dingle the CUNARD CEO at the time onboard for a visit. The ship was aware of his pending visit and his schedule well in advance. He was scheduled to eat lunch in the crew mess, you can guess what happened that day, fresh fruit and the food was guest standard. Any other day of the week, that wouldn’t be the case . . . "

The problem of course is not just the spotty food, but the combination of factors: long hours working, long contracts, little time off, time away from home and family, demanding supervisors and a lack of respect from passengers. 

Have a comment? Please join the discussio on our Facebook page.

Cruise Ship FoodThe other day I posted an article entitled Grub on the High Seas.  I also posted photographs on Facebook of the food served in the crew mess, primarily on MSC, Costa and Cunard cruise ships.

A number of crew members sent me photos of some nasty looking stuff (photo left from Cunard).  One cruise passenger who follows me on Facebook asked me to delete a photo because she claimed that a pan of greasy-looking undercooked meat of some kind was causing her extreme mental anguish.

But other crew members commented that food on their cruise ships was fantastic.

One crew member from the Cunard Victoria posted photographs of delicious looking meals with fresh-looking vegetables, soups and cakes & pastries (photo bottom). These photos contrasted sharply with the photo of disgusting gruel served on another Cunard ship.

So I organized his photos in this album on Facebook. You can contrast them with the prior album I posted.

I suppose the food varies a bit from time to time from ship to ship.  That being said, which album best illustrates the food served to you in the crew mess on your ship?

Please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Or send us a photo of what is served on your ship.

Please feel free to message me confidentially on Facebook or email be privately at jim@cruiselaw.com with your photos if you are afraid that your company will fire you.      

Cruise Ship Food

 

A crew member reportedly disappeared from the Queen Mary II as the cruise ship was in transit across the Atlantic Ocean.

A person on the cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous contacted me this morning to report that a crew member went overboard early this morning. The crew member apparently was not seen when he went overboard and the ship does not have an automatic man overboard system.  The cruise ship turned around to search for the man who went overboard many hours ago. The captain Kevin Oprey announced the overboard incident to the passengers.

The weather is bad with reports of fog as the search continues. The QM2 is sailing between Southampton and Halifax. 

The crew member is reportedly a male chef from Chile.

17 people have gone overboard from cruise ships so far this year

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

Photo Credit: Christian Bischof licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 via Wikipedia

Queen Mary 2

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. and Travel Pulse report that a cruise passenger on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth died while attempting to board the cruise ship from a tender.

The accident occurred while the cruise ship was in the port city of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. 

There are no details of the accident in either publication. 

The Telegraph contains the cruise line’s official statement: "We can confirm that a passenger died  Queen Elizabethearlier today following an accident whilst boarding Queen Elizabeth from a tender. Two of our crew members reacted very quickly and jumped in to rescue her. She was then taken to the medical centre but despite our very best efforts, she died."

It is possible that the passenger was being assisted from the tender to the cruise ship and the two vessels came apart due to rough weather and the passenger fell into the water, a situation we see from time to time. There could also have been a ramp or other device providing a means to transfer the passenger from the tender to the cruise ship which broke or malfunctioned.

In contrast to the duty of "reasonable care" or ordinary care typically owed by the cruise operator to the passenger, a cruise line has a duty of "high care" when a vessel transfer is taking place. 

 

Photo Credit: 663highland via Wikipedia / Creative commons 3.0

Queen Mary IIWWLP reports that the Coast Guard rescued an ill 67-year-old man from the cruise ship Queen Mary II, 47 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. 

The cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard, requesting assistance for a passenger suffering from severe bleeding.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was sent with a rescue crew to medically evacuate the passenger. The helicopter hoisted the man and brought him back to Air Station Cape Cod for ground transport to Cape Cod Hospital.

The newspaper quoted a Coast Guard spokesperson saying:"Hoisting an injured passenger off an underway cruise ship takes a surprising amount of expertise and moving parts, and our crews take pride every time they do it. This case is a great example of our unique role as maritime first responders."

The Coast Guard last rescued a sick passengers from the Queen Mary II in December 2011 when it hoisted an ill 64 year old woman from the cruise ship off the coast of North Carolina.  You can see a video of that rescue below. 

Photo Credit of Queen Mary II: Brian Burnell via Wikipedia

 

//www.youtube.com/embed/tmke-Nd1yQM

Queen Victoria Cruise Ship DeathThe Daily Echo reports that a Cunard crew member died during a Mediterranean cruise on the Queen Victoria cruise ship.

The newspaper quotes a Cunard spokesman saying: “We can confirm the very sad news that one of our crew members on Queen Victoria died last night. We are providing support to his family back home and also to his friends and crewmates on board.

The luxury cruise ship is sailing from Piraeus to Majorca. 

Cunard has not identified the man’s name, nationality, age, job position or cause of death.

If you have information about what happened, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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ABC News aired a video look tonight at the recent spate of multiple norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, focusing on the most recent outbreaks spreading to passengers and crew aboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Emerald Princess cruise ships. 

You can read about our articles about the Emerald Princess and the QM 2.

Watch the video below with ABC’s Matt Gutman reporting:

 

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Queen Mary 2 - QM 2 Cruise ShipCunard’s Queen Mary 2 is in the news with reports that over 150 passengers have been stricken with norovirus as the cruise ship sails on a thirteen night itinerary in the Caribbean from New York.

The Daily Mail states that 150 – 200 passengers have fallen ill with symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

There were reportedly norovirus cases on board the cruise ship during the transatlantic crossing to New York. The Daily Mail suggests that the cruise ship may therefore not been properly cleaned prior to this latest cruise.

Some cruise passengers are debating all of this on the Cruise Critic message board with one person speculating that as many as 500 people may have been affected during the cruise.  Carnival, which owns Cunard, said that although 130 passengers were affected only 19 currently have "active symptoms." 

The Travel Mole publication suggests that Cunard has been playing down reports that "hundreds" of passengers have been hit by the virus.    

If you are on the cruise, please leave a comment about how the cruise line has handled the situation.

 

Photo Credit: Daily Mail