This afternoon, May 17, 2018,  the United States Coast Guard (USCG) released an official press statement indicating that it ended its search for an overboard crew member from the MSC Seaside cruise ship.

The search was for a Filipino crew member who went overboard from the MSC cruise ship around 1:00 A.M. in the late night / early morning hours the previous day, on May 16, 2018.  But the Coast Guard stated in its official press release that it was not notified of the man overboard until 4:00 A.M. on May 16, 2018, which is approximately three (3) hours after the crew member went overboard.

The press release states that a Filipino crew member went overboard southeast of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands “at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday. The cruise ship crew launched a search and contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at approximately 4 a.m. alerting them of the situation.”

This is consistent with the eye witness accounts of a passenger on the MSC Seaside who notified me that the ship began employing searchlights around 3:00 A.M.

It appears from this information that the MSC Seaside was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would be triggered immediately whenever someone went over the rails of the cruise ships and automatically notify the bridge that a person went into the water.

This is disappointing because last October, MSC Cruises announced that it installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and is planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships. Apparently, MSC has not employed the technology on the MSC Seaside.

There are currently several very sophisticated systems manufactured by a variety of companies that use motion, heat sensing and radar technology that will not only automatically notify the bridge of the person going overboard but will actually track the person in the water at night.

Waiting three hours to notify the Coast Guard of a person going overboard suggests that the ship did not know the person went overboard because the ship was not equipped with this life-saving technology.

The failure to employ the technology not only leads to these type of delays but it results in a huge wasteful expenditure of money by the U.S. government. The Coast Guard release sates that:

“Coast Guard rescue crews comprised of a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen, a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft–Law Enforcement response boat from Boat Forces Saint Thomas and the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence conducted five air and three surface searches covering an area of approximately 1,216 square nautical miles.”

By notifying the U.S. Coast Guard three hours late, at 4:00 A.M. after the crew member went Confidence Cutteroverboard from the MSC Seaside at 1:00 A.M., MSC not only ensured that the late search would be unsuccessful but wasted the resources of Coast Guard stations in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas USVI and Clearwater Florida involving the deployment of a C-130 Hercules aircraft, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft, and the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence (based in Port Canaveral, Florida). These governmental vessels involved in the delayed search are in addition to the commercial vessels also involved in essentially looking for a needle in a haystack, including the Carnival Glory and the oil tanker Rose which were both involved in the belated search.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding other man overboard searches indicate that the U.S. government spends around one millions dollars in deploying Coast Guard aircraft, helicopters and vessels for each similar search. It costs a lot of fuel to fly a C-130 down to the Caribbean from Clearwater, Florida and deploy a couple of of Dolphin helicopters and a Coast Guard cutter to conduct a (delayed) search of over 1,200 nautical square miles. Cruise lines do not pay anything to the U.S. government for the deploying of such vast resources for such man overboard searches which become necessary simply because cruise lines refuse to invest the necessary money to employ existing man overboard technology.

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

Photo credit: Top – Dickelbers – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.Bottom – U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

A crew member from the MSC Seaside has been reported going overboard last night south of the Virgin Islands.

A passenger on the MSC cruise ship notified me this morning of the incident.  Florida resident Brett Morphis stated that the ship used spotlights to search for the crew member starting around 3 A.M. and continuing throughout the night.  The captain of the ship made an official announcement around 7 A.M., followed by a second announcement this morning stating that the search was continuing with prayers for the crew member.  A U.S. Coast MSC Seaside OverboardGuard helicopter and a Carnival ship (the Carnival Glory) as well as smaller commercial vessels reportedly were all engaged in the search. AIS systems seems to show that the MSC Seaside turned around west of the Virgin Islands and returned to a spot where the ship believed the crew member went overboard.

It is unknown whether the MSC Seaside was equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would have instantly alerted the bridge when the crew member went over the railing.

Last October, MSC Cruises announced that it installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and is planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

The man overboard has been identified as a 37 year-old crew member from the Philippines.

A news report from Puerto Rico states that the crew member “went overboard from the seventh deck of the Maltese-flagged cruise ship at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday. The cruise ship crew launched a search and contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at approximately 4 a.m. alerting them of the situation.”  If this account is accurate, it is unclear why there was a three hour delay by the cruise ship in notifying the Coast Guard of the man overboard.

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

Roatan Pier MAC ArmoniaThe MSC Armonia crashed into the dock in Roatan, Honduras today, according to videos which were posted on Youtube. The MSC cruise ship is shown coming into the port at a higher than normal rate of speed. In addition to the vesel damage, there was significant damage to the pier.

There are several videos of the incident.

Some of the videos show damage to the ship along the forward, port side of the ship.

I first saw the video on the popular gCaptain site.

The incident is reminiscent of an incident in Alaska when the Celebrity Infinity struck a wharf in Ketchikan two years ago.

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

Video credit: Nessy Warren; photo – La Prensa

https://youtube.com/watch?v=vQzs_bzHuAY%3Frel%3D0

 

Yusmaidys Ortiz Perez MSC OperaA MSC crew member who stayed in Grand Cayman last month, when her cruise ship left port, was sentenced to three months in prison for illegally remaining on the island. 

As we previously reported, 34 year old Yusmaidys Ortiz Perez, employed as a bartender on the MSC Opera, was reported by MSC to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service four days after the ship left Grand Caymen after she did not return to the cruise ship. The woman was eventually located safe on the island, although the cruise line never explained why it delayed four days before reporting that she did not return to the ship before it left the country.

At the hearing last Friday regarding Ms. Ortiz Perez’s decision to  illegally remain in the Caymans, her defense lawyer reportedly told the court that Ms. Ortiz Perez “broke down” after leaving the ship because her a manager on the cruise ship was “exploiting” her, according to the Cayman Compass.  (He also reportedly stated that her partner in her home country of Cuba had allegedly "threatened to kill her"). 

Ms. Ortiz Perez reportedly told the court that “while on the ship, she was exploited by a manager and she was asked to perform certain duties and if she didn’t, she was told she would lose her job.”

The newspaper article in the Cayman stated that "Ms. Ortiz Perez did not welcome the attention from the manager. When invited to his room or other places on the ship, she would say no because she had been working 11 hours or because she did not want to." Ms. Ortiz Perez’s partner back in Cuba allegedly stated that he was going to kill her over suggestions that she had begun a relationship with her supervisor. 

Ms. Ortiz Perez apparently received a message to the effect that "as soon as you come to the dock, somebody will be waiting and this is what is going to happen to you.”

The judge sentenced Ms. Ortiz Perez to three months in jail, although reportedly stating that “I accept you are in distress and find yourself in a difficult position.”

Question for crew members: Have you been a victim of sexual harassment on a cruise ship?

Photo credit: Crew Center

West Bay Cayman IslandsOn March 27, 2018, MSC Cruises reported to the police in the Cayman Islands that a crew member was missing after she failed to re-board the MSC Opera cruise ship before its departure from George Town. We mentioned the incident on March 28th, after the popular Crew Center reported the incident.

According to the Cayman News Service, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service were told by the MSC cruise ship on March 27th about the missing woman. The crew member was identified as 34 year old Yusmaidys Ortiz Perez.

Today, the Caymans’ newspaper reported that MSC Cruises reported Ms. Perez missing “four days after the MSC Opera departed from the Cayman Islands.” The MSC Opera had arrived in Grand Cayman on Friday, March 23rd and departed the same day without the crew member.

The police in Grand Cayman state that Ms. Perez was found in good health in West Bay.

West Bay is a residential district located on the west side of Grand Cayman Island, located north of the island’s popular Seven Mile Beach.

It’s a good development that the woman has been located, although it is troubling that the cruise ship personnel delayed four days before reporting that she did not return to the ship before it left the country.

MSC OrchestraThe German newspaper, Bild, recently published a blockbuster article tilted Child Molester on Dream Boat which reports that MSC Cruises rehired a crew member who had been accused of sexually molesting a ten year old child. MSC is accused of flying the crew member back to India rather than turning him over to law enforcement.

The newspaper states that the sexual molestation occurred in 2015 on the MSC Orchestra. The 45 year old cabin attendant is alleged to have sexually abused a 10 year old boy traveling with his German parents on the MSC cruise ship during a Baltic cruise. The minor’s parents were reportedly at a performance in the ship’s theater when the Indian crew member entered the cabin “supposedly to change towels.”

Another German newspaper, the Berliner Kurier, reported that the steward tried to entertain the boy by folding towel animals before pulling the child’s pants down. The cabin attendant told the child not to tell his parents anything. However, after his parents return to the stateroom the boy told them what happen and they immediately reported the assault to the ship’s captain.

But after the cruise ended in Tallinn, the cabin attendant was not arrested but instead, on the same day, was flown at MSC’s expense back to India.

The newspapers state that, a few months later, MSC rehired the steward, but he was subsequently arrested on a European criminal warrant in May 2017 when the MSC cruise ship called on Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The judge sentenced the MSC crew member to 22 months imprison, and added that “I find it strange that the cruise company rehires someone who is accused of sexual abuse to MSC Cruises Sexual Crimea child . . . ”

The popular Crew Center website asked these basic questions:

  • Why did the captain not hand over the crew member immediately to the police authorities in Estonia, instead of sending him to India?
  • Does the company check the records before rehiring a crew member?

Berliner Kurier reported that its editorial staff asked MSC to explain why the captain did not hand over the crew member immediately to the Estonian police instead of flying its employee out of the jurisdiction. MSC refused to comment.

We have also asked for a statement from MSC which has not responded to date.

This case follows a pattern which we have discussed many times, where parents leave their children in what they believe is the security of their cabin to attend a dinner or show, and a cabin attendant enters the cabin during their absence. Sexual assaults by cabin attendants in staterooms are the most frequent type of shipboard sexual crimes on cruises, in our opinion. And it’s not uncommon for cruise lines to immediately fly their employees accused of such crimes back to their home country like this, as this infamous case clearly reveals.

The crew member reportedly worked for MSC as a cabin attendant for 13 years. The question arises how many other times this pedophile abused children in this manner.

This summer, NBC News aired a special program regarding Hidden Dangers for Children on Cruise Ships. Earlier this month, we reported on the arrest of a U.S. passenger, age 30, who is accused of raping a 15 year old boy on a NCL cruise ship.

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

Photo credit:Top – MSC Orchestra in Tallinn – Bin im Garten, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – Bild.

MSC DivinaA lawsuit filed suit last week against MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., and MSC Crociere SA, alleges that a MSC crew member, identified as Rudy Samuel Santos Hernandez, sexually assaulted and battered a 12-year-old child on the MSC cruise ship.

According to the Florida Record, which reports on filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the lawsuit against MSC and its crew member alleges:

"that on Feb. 14, 2016, [plaintiff] and his 12-year-old granddaughter were aboard MSC Cruises for a seven-night Caribbean cruise. Defendant Hernandez allegedly took advantage of the situation as he observed the minor enter the empty cabin, which she shared with her grandfather, legal guardian and plaintiff."

According to the lawsuit, the crew member used his service key to "enter the room where he sexually assaulted and physically battered the minor." The incident is alleged to have occurred aboard the MSC Divina.

The family is represented by Jason Margulies and Carol Finklehoffe here in Miami.

Sexual crimes against children on cruises are hardly rare. I have written about it here many times. 

Over six years ago, I wrote:

"The number one crime we see on cruise ships is when the parents stay out late at the disco or casino, and they leave their 12 year old son or 14 year old daughter alone in the cabin. Many kids get tired after a fun day at the pool or after an excursion ashore, and they don’t want to go to the second seating at dinner. There are far too many cases where the cabin attendants will use their key card to access the cabin when the parents are away."

We have recommended that the cruise lines deactivate the key cards of crew members after hours so they can’t use them to get into the passenger cabins, using female cabin attendants rather than 25 year old males, or assigning supervisors to monitor the passenger cabins. Most cruise lines have ignored these recommendations.

Cruise lines like MSC Cruises typically do not perform independent background checks on their housekeeping and wait staff before they are hired. Read: Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Photo credit: By Mllturro – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Excursion Bus in DominicaA newspaper in Dominica reports that an excursion bus taking passengers from a MSC cruise ship to a tourist attraction crashed today in Dominica.

An infant reportedly died in the accident, according to the online newspaper in Dominica. 

The bus was heading on an excursion to Trafalgar Falls.

The newspaper says that five people have been taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital. MSC Cruises indicates in a statement (below) that seven passenger were injured.

The MSC cruise ship is the Orchestra. The cruise line says that the passenger had "independently booked through a third party."

There have been a number of deadly bus excursion accidents involving cruise passengers.

Most recently an excursion bus was struck by a truck as the Royal Caribbean excursion was returning to the Freedom of the Seas in Falmouth, Jamaica, resulting in one death and multiple serious injuries.

Prior to that accident, two passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed in Tortola, British West Indies when the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill.
The cruise line earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.

Cruise passengers from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship were seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from the Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information about the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: dominicanewsonline

MSC statement:

"It is with deep sadness that MSC Cruises confirms that a tragic accident involving seven of its guests happened earlier today at approximately 11 AM, local time, in Trafalgar on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

The seven guests involved in the accident were five Italian and two Brazilian nationals. They were on their way to a on shore visit which they had independently booked through a third party.

Immediately after the accident, the guests were transported to the nearby Queen Margaret Hospital in Trafalgar and a support team from the ship has since arrived to the hospital to assist them in every way they can.

Simultaneously, MSC Cruises’ crisis team was activated and has already contacted all the families and relatives of the guests involved in the accident.

The guests were all aboard MSC Orchestra which was calling at Roseau, Dominica, for the day.

Since then, we are glad to report that two Italian and two Brazilian nationals are safely either already back on board or on their way. Regarding the young boy and his family, his parents are out of harm’s way but still at the hospital. I am unfortunately not at liberty to disclose the condition of the young boy, since the relevant authorities have yet to make a formal assessment. Having said this, I have also been reading that he has passed and we are led to believe that this is sadly the case."

The Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente E Dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) (IBAMA) levied a fine of R$ 2.505 million against MSC Cruises.

Based on today’s exchange rate, the fine is approximately $635,545 in U.S. dollars.

IBAMA said that MSC Cruises released garbage into the sea during a cruise between Madeira Island and MSC Garbage Dumpingthe Port of Recife.

The complaint of the environmental crime was made by one of the ship’s passengers who was on board the MSC ship during a cruise between November 26 to December 10, 2013.

I previously wrote about the crime in an article dated December 2013 titled Video: MSC Cruise Ship Dumps Garbage Bags Off Coast of Brazil.

I later posted an article and showed videos of the illegal dumping from the Magnifica sent to me by a crew member on the MSC cruise ship.

It appears that the fine was issued in 2014 after IBAMA viewed video and photographs and listened to testimony, but the fine was not immediately disclosed to the public.

You can see photographs of the dumping here

MSC later touted itself an a steward of the seas.

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

  

https://youtube.com/watch?v=F9cxZXlP5xY%3Frel%3D0

  

https://youtube.com/watch?v=0XpK7zMs0Dk%3Frel%3D0

 

According to the  Yorkshire Evening Post, West Yorkshire Police officers arrested a crew member on a Southampton-based cruise ship for possession of a vast amount of child pornography.

The newspaper article identifies the crew member as Howard Ellis, age 60. He reportedly worked as a musician on a cruise ship. The police arrested him when his ship came returned to the port at Southampton. 

The police seized "three lap top computers, four hard drives and a mobile phone" which reportedly contained 625 images and movies of children, some as young as seven years old, being Howard Ellissexually abused.

The article does not identify the name of the cruise line, however Mr. Ellis’ website states that he has worked as a musician for MSC Cruises for the last two years. 

What’s particularly disturbing is that this is not Mr. Ellis’ first conviction for child pornography. The newspaper article indicates that he has two previous convictions for downloading abusive images of children in January and March 2010 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. 

His resume indicates that he has worked as an entertainer in the cruise industry for the better part of two decades. He worked for Carnival from 1994 to 2004; Royal Caribbean from 2005 to 2006; P&O Cruises from 2006 to 2009; and DFDS Seaways (a ferry line) from 2009 to 2010.

Although Mr. Ellis was the "subject of a community order and a sexual offences prevention order," after his 2010 convictions, MSC Cruises hired him after he served his jail sentence.  It’s a pity that MSC doesn’t have adequate vetting procedures to screen a pervert like this from its cruise ships.

You can read about the problem of child porn on cruise ships below:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

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

Photo Credit: Musicians Page