Italian newspapers are reporting that a 34 year-old waiter was sentenced to 10 months in jail for assaulting and attempting to rape a 17 year-old girl on the Costa Fascinosa.  The Il Gazzettino first reported the incident which occurred three years ago on October 19th during a cruise in the Adriatic Sea, between Istanbul and Dubrovnik.

La Nuova di Venezia says that the waiter, identified as Floriano Fernandes, assaulted the girl in a bathroom of the cruise ship but she successfully resisted the attempted rape. The following day, the ship called on Venice but the captain failed to report and/or delayed in accurately reporting the assault and attempted rape. In a report to the Coast Guard, the captain, identified as Ignatius Giardina, from Sicily, reportedly wrote that there Costa Fascinosawas no "extraordinary event" during the cruise. The Italian prosecutor alleged that the captain fraudulently misrepresented the fact that a crime had occurred on the ship and prosecuted him for not properly reporting it.     

Captain Giardina has worked for Costa for 36 years, first as a cadet back in1980, later as a staff captain and safety officer, and as a master for the last 16 years.   

The captain’s defense lawyer argued that "extraordinary event" referred to a navigation point of view, such as a collision, and was not referring to the attempted rape. The captain was acquitted of trying to cover the crime up. 

I first read about the assault on the Crew Center web site. 

Sexual assaults on girls and women are not uncommon on cruise ships and Costa ships in particular. In October of last year, the Italian press reported on an incident where a Costa crew member allegedly sexually molested a 15 year-old girl aboard the Costa Diadema.  Two months earlier, on the same Costa cruise ship, a bartender allegedly followed an 18 year-old French woman into her cabin and raped her.

In 2013, a female Costa security guard alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her supervisor who was permitted to fly back to his home country after the crime. She subsequently won a civil case against her employer.

This is the first case, however, where I have heard that an officer (master) of a cruise ship was prosecuted for allegedly not properly reporting an allegation of sexual assault. I have seen many scenarios where the cruise line tried to cover a rape up but I have never seen any prosecutor willing to levy such allegations in a criminal court against the master of a ship.   

Photo Credit:  By René Grob CC BY-SA 4.0.   

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 Fascinosa  Ten days ago, the Costa Fascinosa was hit by 90 knot winds after the cruise ship left Venice. The captain failed to give any warnings to the passengers and crew members before the storm struck. The cruise ship listed heavily and plates and glasses crashed to the decks and floors throughout the galleys and bars on the ship. Passengers experienced widespread panic.

A Filipino pastry chef working aboard the Fascinosa posted his accounts of the storm on Facebook and included photographs and video of considerable damage in the galley where he worked.  

Other crew members shared his account on Facebook. Several Italian newspapers published his photos and video accounts. Cruise bloggers (such as Cruise Fever, Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, etc.) also recounted the story and included his images of the mishap in their publications.  We were the first blogger here in the U.S. to link to the crew member’s Facebook posts and to cover the story of the violent storm and the Costa officers’ poor response to the incident. 

Costa issued a press release, downplaying the incident, after the photos and video were widely distributed on the internet. You can still see the video below, via the Cruise Fever website.

Today, we learned that Costa terminated the pastry chef’s employment for mentioning the incident on Facebook. Costa flew the crew member back to the Philippines where he remains currently jobless, unable to support his family.

This is how Costa and parent company, Carnival Corporation, treat their employees. Embarrassed by the scene of a thousand plates and covers on the galley floor, Costa retaliated against the chef for simply recording what happened and saying it was the most terrifying experience of his life. Meanwhile, the Costa captain remains at the helm. 

Concordia-plagued Costa has a culture of cover-ups. 

When the Costa Europa slammed into a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, ripping a hole in the ship’s hull and killing three crew members, Costa was tight lipped. It didn’t mention the casualties until photographs were leaked to the press in the U.K. Neither Costa nor flag state Italy refuse to release reports on the deadly accident to this day. 

This is business as usual for Costa’s owner, Carnival Corporation. Carnival terminated and black-Costa Fascinosaballed 150 Indian waiters who quietly protested low pay when the P&O Arcadia cruise ship was in Seattle. The captain promised that there would be no reprisals if the crew members would return to the ship and wait on the guests. But Carnival quickly fired them all and made certain that the hiring agency would never consider rehiring the men on another Carnival owned cruise line. 

We have seen the same vindictive, retaliatory conduct by other cruise lines.

When the MSC Magnifica smashed into a pier at the entrance to the port in Piraeus Greece, the cruise line issued a statement claiming that the damage was minor and that the vessel’s itinerary was not affected. However, a crew member photographed widespread damage to the ship and extensive repairs needed to repair a large hole in the hull which delayed the ship’s departure. After the photos appeared on Facebook, MSC quickly terminated the crew member’s employment for releasing the photos.

The cruise lines rely on carefully crafted images of idyllic vacations at sea. But when crew members complain about unsafe conditions or merely take photographs showing the truth of the matter, the company views them as expendable.  

Like Vegas, what happens on the ships is supposed to stay on the ships. It’s an unwritten rule that a crew member who airs the cruise line’s dirty laundry risks immediate termination and a one-way ticket back to Manila.

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//www.youtube.com/embed/WSvc8oDsrTo?rel=0

Costa Cruise A reader of Cruise Law News sent me a link to this Costa crew member’s Facebook page which contains video and photographs of hundreds of broken dishes in the ship’s galley.

It appears that the cruise ship experienced some type of incident affecting the ship’s navigational system; I’m not sure of the details.

You can see a video of the damage here

I have seen this type of damage before in cases of rough weather, but it appears that poor seamanship may have been a contributing factor in this incident.

Does anyone know about this incident, including the name of the Costa ship and the itinerary? 

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September 25 2014 Update: We received a number of comments on our Facebook page indicating that the cruise ship involved was the Costa Fascinosa. An Italian newspaper says that the cruise ship was sailing from Venice to the Greek islands when it was struck by bad weather and rough seas for two hours. The newspaper says (translated) the ship "yanked from the waves and with one engine failed, it began to turn on itself. It was like being on a spinning top."

Passengers described "glasses, plates and utensils flying in the air." Several passengers fell "driven by the centrifugal force" imposed by rotation of the ship. People cried and prayed.  

Another Italian newspaper refers to the ship being hit by a water-spot / tornado. The article has a video of the captain’s announcement about the storm. The captain reportedly informed the passengers to put life jackets on.

Costa released the following statement today: "We are very sorry for what happened and any inconvenience this caused. We confirm that the evening of 22 September, the Costa Fascinosa met with winds over 90 knots that have influenced the course and met with the inclination of the hull . . . The command of he ship immediately activated the procedures necessary to re-establish a regular and normal navigation, and then proceeded to warn and assist passengers. Costa has taken the route planned in the program."   

 

Photo Credit: Facebook

 

Costa Fascinosa Cruise ShipThe Pefil newspaper reports that a Brazilian businessman traveling on a Costa cruise ship was reported missing by his wife. He was later found dead on the shores of Rio de la Plata.

The newspaper’s headline is "Misteriosa muerte del pasajero de un crucero – Un empresario brasileño fue encontrado a 50 metros de la costa del Río de la Plata".

Tranlsated, that means: "Mysterious death of cruise passenger – A Brazilian businessman was found 50meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata."

The newspaper identifies the passenger as Odair Marcos Faria, who was traveling with his wife, Maria Cristina Florio Bonafin. They were sailing on the Costa Fascinosa.  His wife had reported her husband’s disappearance to the ship’s crew.

The body was found 50 meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata. There is an investigation underway to establish whether the overboard case was a suicide, accident or homicide.

The "Rio de la Plata" (River of Silver) is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and Costa Cruise Ship Passengerthe Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has documented 229 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 9 people have gone overboard so far this year.

Update: The Clarin newspaper also reports on the case, stating that the cruise was a gift from the man’s children. The newspaper suggests that shortly before the cruise, either the passenger or his wife apparently learned that one had a terminal illness (the translation is unclear).

 

Photo Credit: Top – Wikipedia / Abxbay; bottom – Clarin / Facebook