The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 79-year-old passenger who was suffering chest pains from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship near Cuba on July 4, 2018, and flew him to Jackson Memorial Hospital here in Miami.

The Norwegian Sky had just sailed from Havana, Cuba, and was beginning its voyage back to Miami when the cruise ship notified the Coast Guard in Key West that the senior citizen required emergency medical care. The Coast Guard dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Miami to the cruise ship around 4:45 PM, when the NCL ship was approximately 65 miles southwest of Key West.

Video credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) – U.S. Coast Guard District 7

 

Norwegian GetawayA crew member employed by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has reportedly gone overboard from the Norwegian Getaway as the cruise ship was returning from a Caribbean cruise.

There is conflicting information regarding exactly when the crew member went overboard.  Some passengers have stated on social media that the crew member went overboard late at night (around 1:00 A.M.) or early this morning (3-4 A.M.). The captain of the NCL ship made an announcement earlier this afternoon and the ship turned around to conduct a search.

Miami Local News 10 reports that according to the U.S. Coast Guard, the crew member is a 33-year-old Filipino crew member who allegedly went overboard around 3:30 p.m. when the Getaway was about 28 miles northwest of Pinar del Rio, Cuba. The Coast Guard station in Miami deployed a HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane to search the waters northwest of Cuba.

It seems possible, if not likely, that the news account may be reporting when the Coast Guard was first notified by the cruise ship of the missing crew member as opposed to when the crew member actually left the ship.

The Getaway left Miami last Sunday, June 24th, for a one week cruise which included ports in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. The ship left Cozumel yesterday evening and was expected to return to Miami early tomorrow morning.

We were first notified of the incident when an oncoming guest stated that the Getaway has been delayed because a crew member went overboard.

It does not appear that the ship was equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately send an alarm to the bridge went a person goes over the rails and can capture an image of the person and track the person in the water via radar and infrared technology.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 313 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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

Read about what appears to be a similar crew member overboard, where the investigation by the flag state revealed how Royal Caribbean bungled the man overboard search: Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

July 1 2018 Update: A miracle. Overboard Missing Cruise Employee Found 21 Miles North Of Cuba.

Photo credit: Dickelbers – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Man Overboard Norwegian Getaway

NCL Cruise VeniceYesterday, as I flipped through my feed on tweetdeck, I noticed an idyllic image (left) of Venice. The stock photo show a few small boats and gondolas on the Grand Canal, with the text:

Cruise to Venice. It’s a place where people float down man-made waterways or stroll down picturesque alleyways. There’s no more extraordinary place to find yourself, or lose yourself. Stay in Venice before your next Mediterranean cruise!

The photo is linked to NCL’s efforts to market cruises to or from Venice. You can see the same image on NCL’s website.

The last time I wrote about Venice and NCL it involved George Clooney’s romantic wedding procession in Venice, Italy which was disrupted when the 93,000-ton, 2,400-passenger Norwegian NCL Norwegian Jade VeniceJade cruised by on the Giudecca Canal. NCL cluelessly congratulated Mr. Clooney on twitter after crashing his party.

Putting movie stars and celebrities aside, the reality of Venice is now the sight of huge cruise ships operated by NCL and other Miami-based cruise lines towering over the city and downloading hordes of day visitors buying trinkets.  Many of the hundreds of cruise ships coming to Venice each year are over 1,000 feet long, displace 140,000 tons and have drafts well over 25 feet. They pose a substantial risk to this fragile Italian city which is struggling against mass tourism and the deterioration of the city’s underwater foundations.

This is an issue which I have written about for the past decade.

Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice?

Photo credit: @NCL_eu; Norwegian Cruise Line via Travel Pulse; Getty Images via Mail Online / Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice.

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

NCL Cruises Venice

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) reports that its CEO Frank Del Rio’s total compensation for 2017 was $10.5 million.  

Cruise executive Del Rio received compensation valued at $2.9 million in 2016, down from almost $32 million in 2015. According to Seatrade Cruise News, Mr. Del Rio received compensation valued at $31.9 million in 2015, including nearly $17.8 million in stock options and $10.3 million in stock awards. His cash income was about $4 million including a salary of over $1.8 million, and a bonus of $1.9 NCL CEO Frank Del Riomillion. Other compensation of $140,651 included a cash automobile allowance, tax preparation service and a country club membership.

HCLH’s first quarter returns for this year include revenues of $1,293.4 million, and a 13.1% increase in passenger ticket revenues to $889.87 million. 

In an article in Skift today titled Norwegian Cruise CEO Sees No Signs of Recession, Del Rio disputed  the standard worry among cruise industry investors these days "that a recession might loom as the global fleet is growing, potentially leading to costly new ships with a public too cash-strapped to sail on them." 

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

Interested in this issue? We suggest reading:

NCL CEO Del Rio on the Norwegian Breakaway Bomb Cyclone Fiasco: "Weather Can Be Unpredictable . . . (It’s) All Good." 

NCL Imposes Keelhauling to Motivate Crew Members.

Photo credit: Frank Del Rio – Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images and Storify.

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard from the Norwegian Spirit last night around 2:00 A.M, according to the Express newspaper.

The NCL cruise ship was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea approximately 30 miles south of the port city of Cartagena, Spain. The ship was apparently sailing toward Alicante and now will sail on to Barcelona.

The Spanish Coast Guard spokesman was reportedly notified around 2:15 A.M. A Coast Guard spokesperson said that “several vessels are taking part in an ongoing search along with two coastguard helicopters and a plane. . . The man who has gone overboard is a 34-year-old of Saudi origin. I do not have information about the circumstances of how he ended up in the water.”

AIS reports show the Norwegian Spirit conducting search patterns and then sailing northeast toward Alicante / Barcelona.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, at least 307 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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

April 20, 2018 Update: A newspaper in Riyadh mentions that the disappearance involved Omar Salman Awadh Al-Matiri, a Saudi national who reportedly studied in the United States before joining Saudi Aramco to work as civil engineer and pilot (photo above right). Norwegian Spirit Overboard

Norwegian SunSeveral readers of this blog alerted me to a Facebook page called Panama Canal Sun chronicling the ill-fated cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun through the Panama Canal which left from Miami on March 16, 2018.

Construction related to a deck refinishing project reportedly began on board the NCL cruise ship almost immediately according to the website.

As you can see in the numerous photographs posted online, the cruise involved the sanding of the wooden decks and the application of noxious smelling chemicals and compounds throughout the open decks of the ship. Many of the ship employees/contractors involved in the work were wearing respirators due to the dust but the passengers obviously were not wearing personal protective equipment. There are dozens of comments on the Facebook page regarding dust generated by the work covering the public spaces.

The heavy construction caused NCL to shut down numerous bars, deck spaces and restaurants. The photos show paint particles and fibrous insulation covering the decks. Flammable chemicals were stored on open decks. Many passengers complained of burning, itching and runny eyes and difficulty breathing due to the strong fumes and/or particles. 

One passenger complained to guest services of what they believed to be toxic fumes which were entering her cabin from the work on the outer decks. Guest services sent a supervisor to the cabin who reportedly sprayed "Fabrese" into the vent and around the cabin.

The passengers were expecting a  dream vacation on a luxurious cruise ship but paid for a construction zone which woke them up in the early morning with noise and odors which they heard and smelled throughout the day and into the night.

This appears to be a project which obviously should have taken place in dry-dock, not during a cruise NCL's Norwegian Sunwith nearly two thousand people aboard trying to enjoy a relaxing vacation. The Facebook page members realized that this project was not due to the fault of the captain or crew but was the result of poor leadership from NCL’s corporate offices here in Miami who essentially scheduled a floating dry-dock at sea with passengers on board in order to maximize profits. 

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

April 2, 2018 UpdateSome of the passengers state that doors leading to muster stations on the ship were blocked (photo above right) – this seems dangerous, especially considering the flammable chemicals stored all over the decks . . . Muster assembly access to some of the lifeboats is also blocked, as shown in some of the photos below . . .   

April 3, 2018 Update: 

Global News (Canada) B.C. travellers say trip of a lifetime ruined by work on Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Norwegian Cruise Line said: “While we do our utmost to minimize any impact on the guest experience when these enhancements are taking place, we recognize that in this situation our guests have experienced some inconvenience.” (The company offered passengers 25 per cent off another cruise until March 2019).

CBC Passengers angry and frustrated as cruise ship renovations ruin vacation (Canadian newspaper interviewed me regarding NCL’s outrageous dry-dock-at-sea shenanigans).

April 5, 2018 Update (A.M.): The U.S. media is finally reporting on the NCL madness: 

Newsweek: NIGHTMARE NORWEGIAN CRUISE WAS LIKE A FLOATING CONSTRUCTION SITE.

Travel Pulse: Unhappy Norwegian Sun Passengers Making Voices Heard.  

Photo credit: Panama Canal Sun Facebook page. 

April 5, 2018 Update (P.M.): NCL finally offers a 100% future credit.

 

Norwegian Sun

 Norwegian Sun

China Cruise ProtestThe South China Morning Post reports that Chinese cruise passengers aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy staged a protest aboard the NCL ship after fog resulted in the cancellation of the cruise from Shanghai.

The newspaper reports that the shipboard incident is the latest in a series of strange cases where Chinese tourists have resorted to shows of “patriotism” when they have been inconvenienced. “Passengers angrily jostled crew members while singing the country’s national anthem, The March of the Volunteers,” according to the newspaper in Shanghai.

The demonstration is similar to an prior incident three years ago when around 400 Chinese passengers refused to disembark a cruise ship which was delayed by fog. Later, around Chinese 300 passengers refused to disembark the Quantum of the Seas and had to be forcibly removed following a dispute over a change of the ship’s itinerary.

I asked the question in an earlier blog and will pose it again here –  how will the cruise lines deal with a boatload of angry Chinese passengers sick with a massive norovirus outbreak?

Video Credit: 新中国频道

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

https://youtube.com/watch?v=0UH4ER94nHo%3Frel%3D0

NCL Norwegian Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line (NCL) plans to increase the automatic gratuities charged to its cruise passengers, effective April 1, 2018. Travel Pulse states that NCL informed travel agents of the so-called “nominal adjustment” to its daily service charges today.

The new rates for standard cabins will increase from $13.99 to $14.50 per passenger per day. The new gratuities for suites will increase from $16.99 to $17.50 per person per day.

Just last year, NCL raised gratuities on April 1st from $13.50 per person, per day, to $13.99 (except for the Norwegian Sky where NCL increased daily gratuities to $18.99 a day (an increase over 40%). NCL increased daily gratuities for suites from $15.50 to $16.99 on all of its ships (again, except for the Sky where it increased the daily charge to $21.99).

Regarding the Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun, the gratuities will increase from $18.99  to $19.99 for cabins and from $21.99 to $22.99 for suites, per person per day.  

It seems that there is no limit to the greed of cruise executives. 

Del Rio’s NCL has gouged its customers before, with extra charges, including increased room services charges, automatic gratuities and restaurant cover charges. He made this statement at an earning conference in 2015: "… we have looked across the fleet to identify areas where marginal changes … can be implemented to improve performance. A few examples include a 6.7% average increase in beverage prices, the introduction of a nominal room service fee and lower costs from renegotiated shore excursion agreements. To put into perspective how these small changes can add up quickly, every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line."

Of course, all the major cruise lines nickel-and-dime their customers. Royal Caribbean began charging for room service  last year and, in the past, increased its gratuities while attempting to create the appearance that the increases were for its hard-working crew members (Read: Loyal to Royal? Expect to Pay Higher Gratuities! And the Money’s Not for the Crew). Carnival Corp. did exactly the same thing while it also pocketed the increased gratuities (Read: Carnival Hikes Pre-Paid Gratuities But Will Passengers Secretly Remove Tips?)

Cruise CEO’s like Del Rio, who collected nearly $32 million in 2015 alone, have an unhealthy, unchecked pursuit of profits in an industry which has always overreached into the American public’s pockets. The cruise industry pays virtually no taxes, exploits their workers from around the world, and still nickle-and-dimes their tax-paying customers whenever they have a chance.

Of course, as crew members tell me, the increased gratuities go into the cruise line’s coffers, not into the pockets of the hard working crew members.

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

Photo credit: Coolcaesar CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A newlywed couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana experienced what is described as a “medical nightmare” aboard the Norwegian Pearl during a recent cruise to the Caribbean.

WWL- TV and the New Orleans Advocate in Louisiana report that NCL passenger Brant Aymond was injured during a paddle board accident while the Pearl stopped in Roatan. A piece of coral sliced both of his feet which required medical treatment on the cruise ship. The couple had purchased insurance which covered the shipboard medical care, but NCL still charged them $2,000 upfront. The ship doctor, Norwegian Pearlidentified as Dr. Gomez from Mexico, stiched up Mr. Aymond’s feet. The ship doctor reportedly missed that he suffered a severed tendon in the accident.

As it turned out, Dr. Gomez reportedly also left two pieces of coral sewn inside Mr. Aymond’s foot, according to emergency room physicians back in Baton Rouge who performed emergency surgery to avoid possible amputation.

Mr. Aymond’s foot became infected partially because the ship’s medical team gave him the wrong spectrum of antibiotics, typically used to treat gastrointetinal problems.

In addition to the bad shipboard medical care, NCL reportedly stonewalled the couple when they tried to find out information about the qualifications of the ship doctor and nurse. It appears that NCL refused to deal transparently with their guests, something that we regularly experience with this particular cruise line.  Ms. Aymond stated during the interview:

Norwegian won’t answer my calls, won’t return my e-mails, they won’t respond to the claim, they – absolutely – have just iced us out . . . 

The news station interviewed the past president of the American College of Emergency Physicians who was critical of cruise ship healthcare. He indicated that hospitals in Louisiana are often required to treat returning cruise passengers who have been neglected by what is described as the “medical mess” left by the cruise lines.

Over 1,000,000 people traveled last year from the port in New Orleans.

Ms. Aymond suggested that that if you are injured during a cruise, “get off the boat . . . figure out a way to get back to the states to seek medical care if it is … serious.”

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

Video and photo credit: WWL

http://interactive.tegna-media.com/video/embed/embed.html?id=8003501&type=video&title=Louisiana couple's honeymoon cruise turns into medical nightmare&site=269&playerid=6918249996585&dfpid=32805352&dfpposition=embed_preroll§ion=home

Nowegian EsccapeYesterday, the Jamaican police reportedly seized a pound of cocaine and arrested a man at the cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica, according to the Jamaican Observer newspaper

The Observer reported that around 4:30 on Monday, January 15, 2018, "security checks were being conducted on passengers and crew returning to a cruise ship that was docked at the pier when the man was searched and illicit drugs allegedly found in his possession." The newspaper did not mention the man’s name nor specify whether he is a cruise passenger or a crew member. It identified him only as a a "St Lucian."

Falmouth is one of the ports in the Caribbean where several passengers and crew members have been caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Florida on cruise ships which called on Falmouth and oth ports Jamaica. In the last several years, drugs busts occurred involving crew members on the Allure of the Seas and passengers from the Freedom of the Seas.  In several incidents the newspaper in Jamaica did not identify the cruise ship or disclose whether the person arrested for smuggling was a cruise passenger or crew member. 

The Observer also did not identify the name of the cruise line or cruise ship. According to several sources, the only cruise ship in port in Falmouth on Monday was NCL’s Norwegian Escape. Last summer, three NCL crew members on the Escape were arrested in Belize for smuggling cocaine.

A number of NCL crew members have been arrested for smuggling cocaine on cruise ships which have returned to ports in Florida from the Caribbean.  In just the last three years, over twenty NCL crew members have been arrested on charges of drug smuggling, including NCL crew members involved in a Roatan, Honduras to Florida cocaine smuggling ring.   

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

Photo credit: Arno Redenius – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.