HuanHuan Shen Celebrity Cruises Eclipse TheftThe Broward County Sheriffs Office has posted a mug shot of a 27 year old Celebrity Cruises crew member arrested over the weekend on two counts of charges of grand theft (over $300 and less than $5,000).

According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, HuanHuan Shen was arrested when the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship returned to Port Everglades on Saturday. He is accused of stealing cash from two crew members who he shared a cabin with on the cruise ship.

The newspaper states that Shen opened safes in his cabin and took $4,600 belonging to cabin mate Yang Zhang and $3,300 from cabin-mate Zhibao Dong for a total of $7,900.

Most Chinese ship employees on Celebrity cruise ships are employed in the laundry department earning only around $1,000 a month. 

Its good to see a local sheriff’s office involved in responding to cruise ship theft like this. Under federal law, cruise lines are not even required to report a theft of under $10,000. The FBI will not even respond to reports of cruise ship thefts of under $10,000. Unless a local law enforcement entity gets involved, crew members can steal from passengers and other crew members and know that the worst that will happen is they may be fired and sent home.      

The Eclipse was last in the news when 55 passengers were held up at gun point in St. Lucia ten days ago.  

Cruise Critic reports that 55 cruise passengers and two crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint by three men on Friday, April 12 2013 while in St. Lucia.

Celebrity Cruises issued a statement indicating that passengers were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere at the time of the robbery and were on two Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions, “Breathtaking Soufriere and Warm Mineral Baths” and “Land and Sea to the Pitons.”  Passengers were traveling on the same bus.

Celebrity Cruises EclipseCelebrity states that “none of our guests were injured in this unfortunate event,” but Cruise Critic states that passengers reported that “one woman fell and broke her leg.”

No one is talking about the potential emotional trauma and psychological effects of the armed robbery.

All the cruise passengers aboard the bus had their money and jewelry taken.

Cruise passengers to St. Lucia have been targeted in St. Lucia the past. We have written articles about the crime problem in that island: 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

The problem got so bad that NCL dropped the island for its 2010 to 2012 schedule. Read Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.

Robbing passengers on cruise-sponsored bus excursions is hardly rare. In 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed in a bus by gunmen in St. Kitts.  “Robbing cruise passengers in bulk” in the Caribbean islands and Mexico is not uncommon and I have written about it: Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk – Yes, It Happens!

I wonder whether Celebrity provided any warning to its guests about the problem with cruise passengers being targeted for armed robbery in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands?

If you have info about this latest crime, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

April 14 2013 Update: A video from a local news station in St. Lucia is below.  You will hear tourism officials stating that they told the cruise passengers that such incidents against tourists are “rare,” St. Lucia Celebrity Cruise Crime Victimswhich is obviously untrue if a major Miami based cruise line like NCL pulled out in 2010.

The U.S. national media has picked up the story with Fox News carrying a AP story which mentions the incident. Not much information except the St. Lucia tourism people already hard at work. The article quotes St. Lucia Tourist Board Chairman Mathew Beaubrun portraying the robbery as a “rare incident.”  Damage control is underway.

April 15 2013 Update: USA TODAY assists in the PR damage control, repeating the St. Lucia talking point that crime in that country is “rare.”

Several newspapers are reporting that the police on St. Lucia have arrested one or more of the men involved in the robbery. Fox News says that the police arrested one of “four masked men armed with homemade shotguns and pistols held up the passengers from Celebrity Cruise.”  The Times mentions that three men were arrested.

April 20 2013 Update: I stumbled across a discussion on the Cruise Critic site where just 2 months ago passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse were accosted by a man ashore with a knife which sparked a discussion about crime in St, Lucia.  Meanwhile the cruise line and the PR people on the island are saying that such crime is rare. Read our article Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.

Photo Credit: top – Wikipedia /  Jonathan Schilling; bottom – DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times.

On Monday October 1st, the U.K.’s Channel 4 Dispatches television is airing a documentary about the working conditions aboard the Celebrity Cruises’ Eclipse cruise ship which is now home ported in Southampton. 

The program is called "Cruises Undercover: The Truth Below Deck."  Channel 4 describes the program as follows:

Almost two million Brits took a cruise last year. For many, it’s the holiday of a lifetime with hard-earned savings going in to a dream adventure.

Tazeen Ahmad - Channel 4 Dispatches - Cruises UndercoverGlossy marketing films and brochures depict a cheerful workforce dedicated to making a cruise a five star experience.

Channel 4 Dispatches goes undercover to investigate the reality of life below deck for the multi-national workforce who toil behind the scenes of glamorous ocean going holidays.

The cruise industry generates billions of pounds in revenue each year and working on a ship provides many people from around the world a much needed source of income.

However Dispatches reporter Tazeen Ahmad – traveling as a passenger on a European cruise – and an undercover reporter working as an assistant waiter discover working conditions below the legal minimum in the UK."

Celebrity Cruises has called upon its friends in the travel industry to launch a PR campaign to denounce the program even before its airs. One travel group responded to the battle call and said: "Dramatization of these documentaries does nothing to educate the public to the facts, but represents poor value TV entertainment  . . . "  (I can’t wait to watch!)

Celebrity Cruises says "sadly, we are anticipating a biased and unbalanced programme about the labour and wage issues in the cruise industry."

Claiming that the documentary is biased or misleading is the usual cruise line game plan when Celebrity Cruises Eclipse  investigative reporters go on board Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships to take an undercover look at how cruise ships really operate. Earlier this year, Inside Edition went aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Liberty of the Seas, and filmed the excessive drinking which the cruise line encourages. The president of the cruise line protested that the program was "sensationalist" and "highly misleading." 

The treatment of crew members, particularly waiters, on cruise ships is shameful.  Some call huge cruise ships like this "floating sweatshops." The waiters work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 6 to 8 months straight. One of the more dramatic stories this year covered Carnival U.K. firing 150 waiters from India who worked aboard P & O Arcadia.

Carnival terminated the waiters’ jobs after they protested for one hour about their tips being withheld. 

Its great that the media will shine light on the cruise industry’s treatment of its employees.  Once the program airs, expect more howling protests by the cruise lines and travel agents.

The documentary will certainly depict the industry as being different than the Love Boat TV series.  

I’m hoping that my friends in the U.K. will copy the program and send me a disc . .  .  

 

Photo credit:  EPA via Daily Mirror 

Celebrity Cruises Eclipse - NorovirusThe Southern Daily Echo newspaper in Southampton England is reporting that the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship was delayed for “enhanced sanitation” after dozens of passengers returning to Southampton from a 11 night eastern Mediterranean cruise had been struck down by norovirus.

Sick passengers disembarking the cruise ship at the city’s terminal reported seeing “people walking around in Ghostbusters suits” ready to disinfect the vessel and the terminal.

Cruise ship norovirus cases often take several sailings before the virus runs its course.  Perhaps the Eclipse needs a major cleaning and spray down.  But "enhanced cleaning" may or may not help, depending on whether the virus is passed hand-to-hand between crew and passengers or passenger to passenger – or is contained in contaminated food or water. 

If you were on the Eclipse, please leave a comment below about how the cruise line handled the situation.  We would be interested in hearing from passengers on the ship now whether additional passengers have been sickened or whether everyone is well and enjoying the cruise.

 

Photo credit:  UK Telegraph

Yesterday, we discussed the latest overboard from a Celebrity cruise ship, this time involving a 31 year old Filipino on the Eclipse who by all accounts committed suicide by climbing a rail and jumping into the English Channel.

While some people may be inclined to say oh,a suicide end of the story, my thought is that an investigation is warranted to study the significant number of crewmembers who decide to end their life in this manner.  Is there a correlation between the long hours and difficult working conditions of "ship life" and crew suicides?   

There are a number of interesting comments posted on line about this sad incident, which apparently occurred shortly after an ill passenger was medevaced from the Eclipse.  A medevac of an ill passenger and a crew suicide is not how you want to remember a family cruise holiday.   

One post links to Ship Finder which charted the cruise ship altering course and returning to the location where the crewmember went overboard.  It looks like the Eclipse may have originally  altered course to sail closer to France to meet the helicopter involved in the passenger medical evacuation.  

Eclipse Cruise Ship Medical Evacuation

  

Image credit:   Lee Armstrong via Pinkfroot

Multiple new sources in the U.K. are reporting that a crewmember from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship went overboard last night and is presumed dead.

Sky News reports that, according to the cruise line, a Filipino crewmember was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV) climbing over a railing and jumping from the cruise ship.  The luxury cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises here in Miami, was eight miles north of Cherbourg, France, heading to Southampton when the incident happened.  The cruise ship alerted the French Coast Guard Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crewmemberand turned the vessel around in an attempt to rescue the crewmember.

The French Coast Guard stated "We deployed our resources to find him but it was to no avail and we can now presume that he is dead . . . The water was very cold and there is no hope for him."

We last reported on a Celebrity crew overboard just two months ago – Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  In March, we wrote an article about another crew member disappearing – Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas – Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships – Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard – Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don’t track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein’s website which lists 160 overboards in the past ten years.

In this latest case, the news sources are indicating that the crew member was a Filipino, which probably means that he was a waiter.  The Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led him to jump if this is what happened.

Does anyone have information about what happened?  Please leave a comment below.   

 

Photo credit:  Travel Weekly Blog