Carnival Cruise Lines has been in the news lately with four of its cruise ships failing sanitation inspections in the last two months and a total of five ships failing USPH inspections in the last year.

The Carnival Vista (79), Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), and the Carnival Liberty (80) all recently failed USPH inspections, The Carnival Paradise (83) also failed the VSP inspection last year. Last year also saw the Carnival Conquest (89), Carnival Dream (87), Carnival Fantasy (88) and Carnival Imagination (89) receiving very low sanitation scores. This year, the Carnival Vista received a low score of only 88 during its re-inspection (although the CDC has still not officially posted the score on its data base yet), following its disastrous score of 79 in December 2017 where USPH inspectors caught Carnival hiding food and galley equipment in crew member cabins.

You can see all of the most recently published USPH sanitation scores in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Programs’ (VSP) “Green Sheet” (warning the CDC often delays the publishing of sanitation scores online).

Grandeur of the SeasBut Carnival is not the only cruise line suffering from failing or low sanitation scores.

In the last month, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships have received scores barely above the failing score of 85. The Grandeur of the Seas received a score of 87 in an inspection which took place on January 5, 2018 which was only recently published. There were deductions for various unsanitary conditions as well as heavily corroded and difficult-to-clean steel counters in the galleys of the ship which you can read here.

Several major newspaper reported that several dozens of passengers were sickened with gastrointestinal sicknesses on the Grandeur earlier last month.

Some people may point out that the Grandeur (photo right) is an older ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, having come into service well over 20 years ago and showing obvious signs of external rust and lack of maintenance. But the Allure is obviously a newer and arguably better maintained ship.

But the recent USPH report involving the Allure of the Seas shows that it received a barely-passing score of only 86. The acute gastroenteritis (AGE) logs indicated that a Royal Caribbean food handler who was symptomatic with acute gastroenteritis symptoms returned to work before the completion of the mandatory 48 hour isolation period. A second crew member exhibited acute gastroenteritis symptoms continued to eat meals in the crew mess and did not report to the ship infirmary until over two days later. Another crew member who was symptomatic with AGE symptoms proceeded to eat in crew mess and attend a work meeting, and reported to the ship’s medical department only later.

Even more disturbing is that the USPH inspectors found the following:

“Seat cushions had storage under them in the Windjammer and decks 3, 4, and 5 of the main dining room. These storage areas were heavily soiled with debris, had raw wood, and were located above carpet and/or concrete decks. In these areas, the inspection team found: two closed gallon bottles of Allure of the Seasdrinking water, several bags of neatly folded and bagged linen napkins, a bucket full of silverware, a box of gloves and wiping cloths, wrapped salad stands, several bottles of kitchen degreaser, chlorine bleach, biogel, wet plastic containers, and a large bag with dozens of serving utensils. These were also found along with brooms, dust pans, vacuum cleaners, and other nonfood equipment.”

This sounds like a crew member or crew members tried to hide cleaning materials along with napkins, eating and serving utensils in obviously improper locations which were described as heavily soiled area in the Windjammer Cafe and main dining room. It is difficult to believe that the USPH did not fail the ship for this intentional type of unsanitary conduct. The purpose of USPH cruise ship inspections is to prevent the spread of shipboard disease outbreaks.

Perhaps coincidentally (or not), in December of 2017, Royal Caribbean notified its oncoming passengers that “some guests onboard experienced gastrointestinal illness. In an abundance of caution, we are conducting enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise.”

The questions arises why so many cruise ships operated by both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are receiving low and sometimes failing sanitation scores. Crew members hiding food or eating utensils  and working while ill are hardly new. Are USPH inspectors more vigorously inspecting the ships? Or this the result of too much work and too few crew members who are responsible for cleaning the ship, as some people say?

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In 2015, I publsihed an article about the “hide and seek” games played on the Liberty fo the Seas in Did Royal Caribbean Dupe USPH Inspectors? On our Facebook page, I asked: Do cruise lines hide pots & pans, galley equipment and food from USPH Inspectors? A. Yes. B. No.  The overwhelming response was yes.

Photo credit: Grandeur of the Seas (in Miami) and Allure of the Seas (in Jamaica) – Jim Walker.

Royal Caribbean is rescheduling the current cruise of the Grandeur of the Seas, in order to begin repairs to the cruise ship for what the cruise line refers to as a “technical issue which limits the operation of one of the two rudders used to steer the ship.”

Royal Caribbean notified its guests, at the last minute today, who were planning to board the Grandeur on Thursday, January 11, 2018 that the cruise had been rescheduled to Saturday, January 13th.

Grandeur of the SeasThis news was first reported on by the popular Royal Caribbean Blog.

Guests will receive an onboard credit in the amount of a 50% refund of their cruise fare, excluding taxes and fees.The cruise line will reimburse guests for change fees up to $200 per person for domestic flights and up to $300 per person for international flights.  Those passengers who wish to cancel their cruise will receive a refund.

The Grandeur is one of the oldest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, which first went into service in 1996.

Last year, a lifeboat fell off its davits from the Grandeur of the Seas due to an apparent lack of maintenance.

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Medevac CruiseAccording to Florida Today, aircrews from Patrick Air Force Base medevaced an ill passenger from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas yesterday.

The Grandeur was en route to to Baltimore, Maryland when the air force base was requested to assist in evacuating a passenger reportedly suffering from appendicitis on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The cruise ship was approximately 690 miles off of Cape Canaveral, according to the article. (Although the video information suggests that the ship was about 500 miles from Brevard County). 

The long-range rescue "involved HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and 2 HC-130 aerial refueling aircraft" to reach the cruise ship vessel, according to representatives of the 920th Rescue group.

The U.S. Coast Guard was not involved in the operation, according to Coast Guard officials.

According to the article, the passenger was accompanied by his spouse aboard the rescue helicopter, and flown to Holmes Regional Medical Center, in Melbourne Florida, where he reportedly is recovering,

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November 10, 2017 Update: How the Air Force Carried Out a Daring Rescue of an Ailing Cruise Ship Passenger

 

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice via Florida Today.     

https://uw-media.floridatoday.com/video/embed/107462672?placement=embed

 

Royal Caribbean Cruise PRPR News recently published an interesting article about how Royal Caribbean Cruises successfully handled its public relations image during the 2013 fire aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. Titled How Royal Caribbean Controls the Message During a Crisis, the article explains how the cruise line effectively controlled the narrative when the Grandeur caught on fire while cruising to Nassau.

PR Success: Immediately after the fire, Royal Caribbean quickly flew its president and a professional photographer to the port and tweeted photos of the cruise CEO interacting with guests "so that journalists would use those photos instead of a guest’s."

I mentioned this effective PR move in an article which I posted shortly after the fire titled Where Are Photo & Video Images of the Fire on the Grandeur of the Seas?  I commented on Royal Caribbean’s new and improved PR efforts, but pointed out that the cruise line released more photos of the cruise CEO having tea with passengers after the fire than of the damage to the ship. 

A video report by ABC News helped to explain why there were no videos or photographs because the cruise ship’s crew stopped passengers from taking images of the fire and chaos. Passenger Carrie royal Caribbean Cruise PRMcTigue told ABC News that "even when people put their cameras up to photograph the sunrise, they were told, ‘no photos.’"

PR Disasters: But Royal Caribbean has not always been able to control the images shown to the public when its cruise ships catch on fire. In July 2015, 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 asked a former client who lives near the port to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, on our Facebook page, which was viewed by over a million people within two days. We also posted the video on this blog with 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.

Royal Caribbean also caused a public uproar after it sailed the Anthem of the Seas into a well publicized storm last year. Royal Caribbean’s PR people tried to say that the storm was "unforeseeable" but weather professionals didn’t buy it. They ripped the cruise line for routing the cruise ship directly into the storm. Read the Washington Post’s 4,000-passenger cruise ship inexplicably sails into Atlantic mega-storm. Weather experts accurately predicted the Atlantic seas out of New Jersey to be over 30 feet high with winds of hurricane strength, but the Anthem nonetheless recklessly sailed into theRoyal Caribbean Cruise PR storm, terrorizing thousands of passengers and burning out the clutches of its azipods in the process. The Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating.

Royal Caribbean initially denied any damage or injury to the ship or the passengers and then falsely claimed that the only damage to the ship was "cosmetic." Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, best summed up Royal Caribbean’s claim that the storm was not predicted: "Royal Caribbean’s claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers."  USA TODAY chimed in with "Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm."

Practice Makes Perfect?  The director of the cruise line’s corporate communications, Cynthia Martinez, was quoted in the PR article as saying that that the company often "practices roundtable discussions of how to handle an issue, and sometimes they practice writing tweets and press releases for specific situations." So the next time that a Royal Caribbean ship catches on fire or sails into a storm, remember that what you may be seeing from this cruise line is what it wants you to believe rather than the reality of what actually occurred or – as Al Roker said – "bullfeathers."

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The U.S. Coast Guard reportedly medevaced a passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship off the North Carolina coast yesterday.

A 70-year-old man, experiencing abdominal pains while aboard the Grandeur of the Seas, as the ship was sailing south, was rescued. 

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew was launched from ain Guard station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The helicopter arrived at the cruise ship when it was about 150 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The passenger was hoisted from the ship and onto the helicopter, and then taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.

Video: 13 New Now  

 

 

http://interactive.tegna-media.com/video/embed/embed.html?id=2553857&type=video&title=Raw Video: Coast Guard medevacs man from cruise ship&site=291&playerid=6918249996581&dfpid=32805352&dfpposition=Video_prestream_external§ion=home

 

Grandeur of the Seas LifeboatA lifeboat accident occurred this afternoon while the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas was in the port of Charleston.

A passenger aboard the cruise ship (who wishes to remain anonymous) informed me that a lifeboat had fallen from the cruise ship and was upside down in the water. He sent photographs of the lifeboat taken by other passengers. One photograph shows a cable which is are obviously frayed (bottom photo) and suggests that the cables may have broken and dropped the lifeboat into the water.

This raises obvious concerns that the other cables to the remaining lifeboats may be in a state of disrepair. These lifeboats carry as many as 150 guests.

It is currently unknown whether the accident occurred during a lifeboat drill or whether there were crew members in the lifeboat when it fell.

A newspaper in Charleston says that a “life raft” fell off the cruise ship, but this appears to clearly be an error. The photo above of the lifeboat upside down in the water which was sent to me can be compared to an online photo of a Grandeur lifeboat on davits (below); the metal rails on the side in both photos can be readily observed.

The newspaper reports that the U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said “staff from the ship are attempting Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboatto retrieve the life raft and a team from the Coast Guard will assess any potential pollution impacts.”

There are no reports at this time whether there are any crew member injuries at this time. The newspaper says that “there was no one was on the raft.”

This is not the first lifeboat accident on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In September, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water.

I boarded the Grandeur of the Seas last month with a maritime expert to inspect the lifeboats in a case where a crew member was seriously injured. One observation I left with was that this twenty-year old ship is a victim of deferred maintenance. You can see very heavy rust in the metal throughout the ship, particularly around the windows. Some of the rust is so serious that the windows near the upper, Granddeur of the Seas Lifeboatstarboard side near the stern have been replaced with temporary covers. (See photo at bottom). Earlier this year, another 20 year-old Royal Caribbean ship in the same Vision class, the Rhapsody of the Seas, suffered five windows on deck three breaking, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on decks two and three when the ship encountered rough weather. You can see the rusted windows here and on our Facebook page.

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

January 17, 2017 Update: The Grandeur of the Seas arrives today at the port of Miami, without a lifeboat. The Grandeur apparently left the fallen lifeboat behind in Charleston. Has the Coast Guard inspected the other lifeboats? Photo (above) via @PTZtv.

Photo Credit: middle – shipspotting.

Top – Kenneth Kozak via News2-Charleston.

Below – Anonymous.

Bottom – Jim Walker.Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboat

Grandeur of the SeasThis morning the Grandeur of the Seas, cruising from Bermuda to Baltimore, changed course and took steps to assist what turned out to be a small abandoned vessel adrift on the high seas.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship stopped and investigated the derelict vessel. Cruise ships often stop and administer assistance in circumstances like this. Royal Caribbean deployed a rescue boat and the crew also threw life rings into the water in the event that there were people aboard the vessel.

The crew of the rescue boat observed that that there were signs that another vessel has visited the stranded boat before. The crew of the Grandeur then collected the life rings and brought the rescue crew back aboard, and returned on its cruise back to the U.S.

Lowering and raising rescue boats like this is potentially dangerous, but it is a task that crew members often perform on the high seas.

Photo credit:  Anonymous (above); cruise passenger Natt Penn (below).

Grandeur of the Seas Bermuda to Baltimore (dereliict boat)

Grandeur of the SeasA number of news stations are reporting that the Maryland State Police sent a helicopter to medevac a cruise passenger from the Grandeur of the Seas in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland police officers were notified by the Coast Guard Friday evening that a passenger onboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship needed to be taken to a hospital for cardiac care.

The helicopter crew stationed at St. Mary’s County Airport in Hollywood, Maryland, was the closest aircraft to the cruise ship which was sailing southwest of Tangier Island.

According to Southern Maryland Online, the Maryland State Police Aviation Command has served Maryland citizens since 1970, and operates a fleet of ten helicopters from seven bases throughout Maryland on a 24/7/365 basis. State Police Aviation Command crews have conducted several hoists of patients off cargo ships, but they believe this is the first hoist of a patient from a cruise ship.

The cruise ship sailed from Baltimore to the  Bahamas and Florida on a 7-night cruise.

Photo Credit:  J. Glover – Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger yesterday Wednesday from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship 95 miles east of Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

The Grandeur of the Seas contacted the Coast guard yesterday afternoon, stating that a 71-year-old female passenger was suffering from abdominal pain.

The Coast Guard sent a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, at about 2:20 p.m. which arrived at the cruise ship around 4 p.m.

The helicopter lifted the passenger and her husband and a member of the ship’s infirmary. The helicopter then flew Morehead City, North Carolina, to provide medical treatment to the passenger at a local hospital. 

 

 

Grandeur of the Seas Multiple news sources in Baltimore are reporting that over 200 passenger and crew members aboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas are stricken with norovirus, requiring the cruise ship to skip a port and return to its home port in Baltimore a day early.

A local CBS station says that "just over 200" guests and crew members came down with symptoms of norovirus and the cruise ship decided to return early so that they could receive medical attention.

WBAL Radio reports that there was a medical emergency for one at least one passenger and an outbreak of norovirus among nearly 200 others. 193 passengers and 9 crew members are ill with norovirus.

One passenger who contacted us says that Royal Caribbean promised $75 credit for missing the port of Labadee. The ship will be subjected to enhanced cleaning. 

The Grandeur has been in the news for norovirus in the last year.

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

Photo Credit: J. Glover licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

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