Fred Olsen Black WatchAccording to the Cruise Capital website in the U.K., "a fire broke out aboard Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Black Watch this morning as the ship made its way to Madeira."

The fire, which started in the auxiliary engine room reportedly damaged three engines used to generate power onboard the cruise ship.

Cruise Capital said that the fire was extinguished by the crew. The site stated that "the four main engines are undamaged by the fire, but further investigations will need to be undertaken, before an attempt to restart them later today. Repairs are expected to be made en-route to Madeira."

The Fred Olsen line issued a press statement: “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that there was a fire on board its cruise ship, Black Watch, this morning, in the Auxiliary Engine Room, which was extinguished by the crew. There have been no injuries to guests or crew. The Captain is keeping guests fully informed at all times."

A few hours ago, the cruise line provided an update on Twitter stating claiming that the Black Watch’s "two main engines are now fully operational, and the ship is en-route to Funchal, Madeira."  

The Black Watch is an old ship, built in 1970-1971. It carries 820 passengers after it was refitted several times. It was formerly Royal Viking Line’s Viking Star, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Westward, and Royal Cruise Line’s Star Odyssey.

Hat Tip to Cruise Hive for reporting on the fire.

July 2 2016 Update: According to Cruise Hive, cruise passengers are flying home.  "After assessing the impact, the cruise line stated ‘cabling damage has prevented the other two main engines from running, and it is anticipated that the repairs will cause disruption to guests during the recabling. Therefore, we have made the decision – in the best interests of guests’ comfort and enjoyment – to fly them home from Funchal. Our intention is to charter a private aircraft for our guests back to the UK over the next few days, at Fred. Olsen’s expense.’”

July 3 2016 Update:  "A Huge Fire."  The first comments from a family on the fire-stricken cruise ship according a U.K. newspaper. Passengers on the Fred.Olsen Black Watch cruise ship were 30 minutes from using lifeboats.

July 5 2016 Update:  Fred Olsen cancels the nine-night Norwegian Fjords cruise from Tilbury on July 8, according to Cruise Critic.

An unhappy passenger says: (on our Facebook page)  "Fred Olsen public relations…telling lies.
There were no free phone calls home, we were treated like cattle…420 old and infirm passengers had to pack one small case in the dark after 4 days of no electricity, no water for 12 hours, then cold water only, camping style food etc. etc.
The journey took from 6:30 am until 11 pm via coach, 3 hour ferry, coach, 3 hours standing queuing in a tiny airport, then plane, coach…
No senior execs at airport just 2 young women who usually sell excursions doing their best,, no wheelchairs or assistance provided.
I could go on.
It was horrendous.
I tried desperately to care for a disabled husband with the help of a friend with the endless on and off transport, queuing for hours, travelling on coaches with no air conditioning, no access to water or food for 8 hours..
What else have they lied about?
Wonder if I will ever see my luggage again or receive compensation.
And how did a fuel pipe leak unnoticed for so long that a huge fire had to be tackled for 5 hours by heroic young waiters and other staff?
Never again."

Photo Credit:  By Ra Boe – selbst fotografiert DigiCam C2100UZ, CC BY-SA 2.5,

The Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship has docked in Norfolk amidst what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying is a norovirus outbreak which has inflicted diarrhea and vomiting symptoms on 153 of 917 (16.68%) passengers and 6 of 518 (1.16%) of crew members, over the course of the two week cruise according to a CDC report

It is the ninth gastrointestinal outbreak this year involving a cruise ship calling on a U.S. port according to the CDC

The Balmoral is an old (1987) cruise ship flagged in Nassau which has struggled with gastrointestinal illness outbreaks over the years. 300 passengers were stricken with symptoms when the ship experienced aFred Olsen Balmoral massive outbreak in May of 2015. The cruise line curtailed the cruise from 8 to 7 days to return to Southampton for "barrier cleaning." In early 2010, a newspaper reported that the Balmoral could have been detained after 250 passengers fell ill with norovirus. In an article entitled "Cursed Cruise Ship Balmoral to be Investigated," the newspaper reported that the sick cruise ship was heading from the Canary Islands to Dover, England. From 2009 to 2010, the number of those affected in three sickness outbreaks on the ship was "541 in under 12 months."

Norovirus is a disease which, although common on shore as well, is a public relations nightmare for the cruise lines. Unfortunately, gastrointestinal outbreaks on the high seas are handled differently than ashore. The cruise lines cast blame on the customers 100% of the time.  

Norovirus, according to the FDA and CDC, is primarily a food-borne disease caused by contaminated food or water.  It can also be caused by ill food handlers as well as by cruise passengers who come aboard the ship already ill.  Chipotle, for example, has taken great responsibility for norovirus outbreaks whenever they occur in one of their stores, by not opening the stores whenever a food handler becomes ill, improving food-handling policies and procedures and carefully scrutinizing food sources to determine whether the outbreak can be tracked down before it infects customers in the stores.

On cruise ships, on the other hand, neither the cruise lines nor the minimally funded and staffed CDC conduct any epidemiology analysis. The cruise lines resort simply to massive spraying, rubbing and scrubbing every surface in sight. But such measures don’t help if the lettuce comes on the ship contaminated or if handled by a sick chef who infects 75 passengers who eat a salad. Crew members are placed under incredible stress and work long hours whenever there is a code red issued. Crew lines automatically blame the personal hygiene of the passengers time after time, ship after ship, no matter the real source of the outbreak and even though no scientific process has taken place to pinpoint the true cause of the outbreak.  

I anticipate readers who will respond to this article by posting anecdotal stories of seeing passengers not bothering to wash their hands after they use public bathrooms or not using hand sanitizers, which are largely ineffective against norovirus in the first place.  

Chipotle has funded studies to investigate how it can ensure its food quality by improving food handling techniques. It clearly has a commitment to get to the root of the cause of the illness. I know of no commitment by the cruise lines to allocate any of their massive profits to study the problem. Indeed, no cruise line has even acknowledged the studies which indicate that the virus can become airborne when vomited, which seems like a massive problem given the confined space on a cruise ship. (Read: Airborne Norovirus – What Now Cruise Lines?

So there will be more and more outbreaks, the crew members will continue to be pressed to work longer hours spraying and wiping, the cruise lines will continue to blame the dirty hands of their customers, and no one will figure out the real cause of the outbreak.   

Statement by Fred Olsen: The cruise line is already blaming its guests.  It cites its alleged compliance with, among other things, the "strict" requirements of the "flag state" (Nassau).

May 8. 2016 Update:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 27 percent of the passengers aboard the Balmoral have gotten sick since the cruise began April 16th. WMTW-TV says that according to the CDC,  252 of the 919 passengers on the Balmoral have fallen ill, as well as eight crew members.   

May 11 2016 Update:  The CDC says the total number of passengers sickened since the beginning of the cruise has increased to 272 passengers. According to the Evening Standard, Cruise ship Balmoral was infected with vomit bug BEFORE setting sail.  

 

Have a thought?  Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo credit: LesMeloures CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia (photo taken 2008 before paint change)

    

http://up.anv.bz/latest/anvload.html?key=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

Fred Olsen Balmoral Cruise Hive reports that a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned a week ago, on Sunday, January 10, 2016, during a scheduled boat training drill.

At the time of the accident the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira.

The cruise line told Cruise Hive that “this incident occurred as a result of the ship’s winches lowering the tender boat at different speeds.”

Fred Olsen also said that the winches allegedly were independently surveyed in December 2015 for Flag compliance and no issues were found at the time.

Fred Olsen flags the 28 year old ship in Nassau Bahamas.

The mishap reportedly did not cause any personal injuries to the crew members.

Lifeboat or tender/rescue boat safety drills are highly dangerous. In August 2015, while an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea was being lowered, a cable broke.  In July 2016, during a drill involving a rescue boat on the NCL’s Pride of America, two crew members were seriously injured when the boat fell from deck 6. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.  In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water when it was being lifted in violation of a new CLIA safety protocol. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

 

Fred Olsen Balmoral Cruise passengers on the Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship are affected by a massive viral outbreak.

The cruise ship’s medical staff is overwhelmed with sick passengers who are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. The person who contacted us says that at least 300 of 1,100 passengers, as well as crew members, are ill with the gastrointestinal sickness..

The cruise line curtailed the cruise from 8 to 7 days to return to Southampton for "Barrier Cleaning." 

News sources in the U.K. are reporting that Fred Olsen passengers hit with a "vomiting bug" which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Fred Olsen said it was "company policy" not to reveal the number of passengers affected, but the Daily Echo says that as many as 250 had contracted the bug.

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

Photo Credit: Daily Echo
 

 

A U.K. based cruise ship with 784 passengers aboard was left listing off the coast of Morocco, North Africa following an engine room fire.

Newspapers in London are reporting that the Boudicca cruise ship caught fire due to an outbreak in the engine room and left the ship in total darkness.

The Boudicca is owned by the UK-based, Norwegian-owned company Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

The BBC said that the fire broke out at four in the morning today and “the ship was without engine power for Boudiccaabout five hours.” The BBC quoted texts from passengers on board back to their families: “‘no engines, fire in the engine room, there’s smoke, we’re in life jackets and the captain says everything is under control’.”

The ship was able to restart two main engines as well as auxiliary engines. The ship is currently limping to the next port at a speed of 8-9 knots.

The Boudicca originally sailed from Southampton on January 20th  for an 18-night cruise of Cape Verde and the Canary Islands.

The ship is off the coast of Casablanca, Morocco. It left Cadiz, Spain, on Saturday, and was due to arrive in Lanzarote on Monday.

The Daily Mail covers the story in an article “Terrified British holidaymakers plunged into darkness after stricken cruise ship began to list off coast of Morocco following fire in engine room.” The cruise line down-played the danger to the passengers and crew members, saying “there is a power outage to some cabins and public areas in the centre of the ship, but most services are operating normally, and guests are enjoying the usual activities on board, both inside and out on deck.”

The Boudicca was constructed in 1973. It is over 40 years old.

 

If you have a thought, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our facebook page.

Photo credit: Wikipedia / PjotrMahh1 Creative Commons 3.0

There has been some speculation over the last two weeks that a passenger went overboard from a Fred Olsen cruise ship sailing to South America.

Several newspapers have now reported that a passenger died "after falling overboard from the Fred Olsen Black Watch 70-miles off the coast of Brazil" on January 30th, after the cruise ship made its Transatlantic crossing. 

One newspaper quotes a spokeswoman for Fred Olsen saying that the passenger died "after falling overboard in rough seas" after the ship left Rio de Janeiro. The cruise line spokesperson also said that "a body was sighted floating in the water, but due to the bad sea conditions, with waves of up to three Fred Olsen Black Watchmetres and 30-knot winds, it was not possible for the ship to recover the body."

This incident sounds like a prior incident where a cruise passenger from the U.K. went overboard. The cruise ship was not identified in that prior story. 

Many readers commented that they find it difficult to believe that a passenger could "fall" off of a cruise ship, without being pushed, clowning around, or intentionally jumping. I don’t necessarily disagree, except to say that it sounds like there were no surveillance cameras which recorded the event and certainly no automatic man overboard system installed.

The Black Watch is a old ship which started sailing in the early 1970’s. 

The newspaper also reported that the cruise ship stopped near Isla Picton close to the Argentine border around 50 miles north of Cape Horn and was delayed because of a "technical issue with the ship’s steering gear."

The ship is on a world tour and will continue its 114-night "South American and World Voyage" cruise when repairs are completed.

 

Photo Credit: RaBoe/Wikipedia Creative Commons License

BBC News has an article about a gastrointestinal virus outbreak sickening passengers aboard a Fred Olsen cruise ship this week.

Last week we reported on the Fred Olsen Black Watch cruise ship (what a dreadful name) which was nicknamed the "Black Death" by norovirus infected passengers who have suffered through three consecutive sailings aboard what some people are also calling the "plague ship."

Around 10% of Black Watch passengers have been infected over the last month.

Fred Olsen Boudicca Cruise Ship - NorovirusBBC News says that the Boudicca is the latest Fred Olsen ship to become sick. The cruise line confirms there has been an outbreak of what the cruise line is saying is a "a gastroenteritis-type illness" on board the cruise ship which left Belfast last week. That means that the cruise line doesn’t know exactly what type of sickness it is.

Is it norovirus or a e-coli outbreak? Fred Olsen doesn’t seem to know.

This is not the first outbreak this year on the Boudicca this year. Read: Our Plague Ship Diary: After Ten Days on Cruise Hit by Norovirus, Two Friends Present the Holiday Snaps from Hell

What caused the latest outbreak? Contaminated food or water?  Sick crew members?  Fred Olsen is not saying if it knows. Usually the cruise lines are quick to blame everything but the cruise ship and its crew. The "dirty handed passengers" of the nasty passengers are usually blamed. 

What we know from the BBC is that at least 72 Boudicca passengers out of the 760 or so passengers are ill. That’s around 9%, which is many times the percentage of sick passengers which the Centers for Disease Control requires to be reported in the U.S. 

The cruise line says that the cruise ship will return to Belfast tomorrow where the ship will be cleaned and sanitized. The ship will then quickly head off on a 12-night cruise to Madeira and the Canaries. 

Cruise lines like Fred Olsen tout that "the health, safety and well-being of all our guests and crew is paramount." But is this true?

A responsible company would make the best effort to find out exactly what type of illness affected the passengers, such as testing the food and/or determining whether food handlers were sick and not properly quarantined (a problem recently noted by health inspectors during U.S. CDC Vessel Sanitation Program inspections).

Right now there are over 70 Boudicca passengers spewing vomit and spraying diarrhea in their cabins and bathrooms. (Watch Vomiting Larry) Many millions of infected particles of some type of virus are covering the floors, carpets, bed covers, and nooks and crannies of these cabins. Yes, the cabins will be cleaned thoroughly (we hope) but will a few dozen infected particles linger to greet a new round of passengers? Its takes just 20 particles or so to get sick.

The new passengers, of course, are not told whether their cabins were the scene of a puke-and-diarrhea-fest just hours before they arrived.

It seems like an impossible task for the poor cabin attendants pressed into action for such a short period of time to try and kill off all of the noro or e-coli in the cabins after such intense purging of the stomach and bowels of the sick people. But what if the culprit is in the food from the galley?  There is no way that the cruise ship will find out in the limited time when the sick disembark the ship and the healthy arrive. There’s not enough time to slow down and take an extra couple of days to let the epidemiologists perform their job of finding the causative viral or bacterial agent and determining how it came aboard the ship.    

Instead, we hear cruise lines telling the new passengers: "Trust us. Your health is our highest concern."

Last week we reported on a norovirus outbreak on the Fred Olsen cruise ship, Black Watch, while sailing to Russia. The cruise ship’s sickened passengers dubbed the ship the "Black Death." One ill cruise passengers was quoted saying:

“The staff marked doors of those infected with a cross. It was like the Dark Ages. Forget the Black Watch – we were on the Black Death plague ship.” 

Well the so-called "plague" continues. The Daily Record says that 72 people on the latest cruise aboard the Black Watch have been struck down with the same sickness causing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Fred Olden Black Watch Cruise ShipThe cruise line confirmed to the newspaper that 112 passengers on the August 18th cruise became sick, and then 59 more passengers fell ill on a September 1st cruise to Norway. That means that 234 passengers have become ill on the last three cruises on this cruise ship which carries less than 750 passengers.

According to the Daily Record, one poor passenger said: 

“Norovirus was rife. The sauna, jacuzzi, casino, buffet and cinema – all the facilities we had paid for – were closed, as were all the public toilets."

“In my opinion, this ship should never have been allowed to leave  . . . It should have been docked until it was free of the bug.”

My thoughts?

There’s no excuse having three consecutive noro outbreaks which average over 10% of the passengers (the article doesn’t mention the sick crew). 

The business model of all the cruise lines keeps the ships running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s is no time for a systematic, scientific inspection to determine the actual cause of the norovirus and to determine when and how it is was introduced onto the ship, whether by food, water or a previously-sick passenger.  "Enhanced cleaning" of everything, when the virus may have been brought aboard in lettuce or sprouts, is pointless. Cruise lines are quick to blame the passengers for not washing their hands, but the real culprit could be contaminated food, water or an ill crew member.    

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ra Boe 

The Daily Record reports that the Fred Olsen Black Watch was nick-named "Black Death" after more than 100 passengers were struck down by a norovirus outbreak during a 12-night Scandinavia and St Petersburg cruise. 

The cabins of infected quarantined passengers were marked with crosses to warn cruise staff who wore face masks for protection. Their luggage and bags were was marked with chalk to protect baggage handlers.

An ambulance was waiting in the home port to take a sick cruise passenger to the hospital Black Watch Cruise Ship Norovirusin Dunfermline.

The newspaper reports that the previous cruise also had a norovirus outbreak. The newspaper quoted a passenger on the sickly cruise ship saying:

“The staff marked doors of those infected with a cross. It was like the Dark Ages. Forget the Black Watch – we were on the Black Death plague ship.”

130 out of 778 guests became ill.

Meanwhile a small number (8) cruise passengers aboard the the luxury cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (QM2), come down with gastrointestinal symptoms thought to be norovirus, according to the Daily Echo

Norovirus is also commonly known as the "cruise ship sickness."

The cruise industry hates it when people call it that. Cruise lines point out that norovirus is also common in hospitals, nursing homes and child-care facilities. They are right of course. But it’s a sad commentary when you have to compare high priced cruise ships to places with ill patients, infirm geriatrics, and kids with poop in their diapers.

Mail Online in the U.K. is reporting on the disappearance of what is described as an "elderly" passenger who was traveling alone on the Balmoral cruise ship operated by Fred Olsen Lines.

The story made the news when the cruise ship returned to the port of Southampton after an eight day cruise in the Norwegian fjords.  Around 1,000 passengers were detained on the cruise ship while authorities showed photographs of the missing passenger and questioned them whether Balmoral Cruise Ship - Missing Passenger - Overboardthey had any knowledge about the passenger.

The detaining of passengers is somewhat unusual because most cruise lines and investigating agencies let the passengers disembark without ever questioning them.

The newspaper article indicated that the passenger was in his late 70’s or early 80’s and also referenced a "note which was discovered by a cabin stewardess."

The passenger was apparently last seen around 9:00 PM on Sunday night, and was discovered missing yesterday morning.

Does the presence of a "note" and the fact that the passenger was elderly suggest that he committed suicide?  I don’t know.  What is the height of the rails?  Was he over-served alcohol?  Where are the CCTV images if the passenger went overboard, voluntarily or involuntarily?

We reported on the disappearance of an eighty year old passenger last year from the Balmoral, without explanation.  Did the cruise line improve its CCTV capacities following that incident?

This incident occurred as the parents of missing Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam appealed to the U.K. Shipping Minister to introduce tougher laws to protect British citizens from crimes at sea, as we mentioned in an article yesterday.

Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew.  The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.