Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced during the evening of Sunday November 18th that is was cancelling the current cruise of the Norwegian Jade due to an unspecified “mechanical issue.”

The Jade is currently is San Juan, Puerto Rico during the third day of a “10-Night Southern Caribbean,” having left Miami during the afternoon of November 16th.  The NCL cruise ship was scheduled to leave San Juan last night and arrive in St. Thomas later this morning. The ship was originally scheduled to call on St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten, returning to Miami on November 26th.

The Master of the ship, Captain Frank Juliussen, confirmed via a letter to the guests that the mechanical issue will keep the ship in San Juan until Tuesday, November 20th at which time “all guests will be required to disembark as the ship will undergo several days of repairs.”

NCL stated that it is trying to arrange charter flights for its guests back to Miami; however, it will pay $650 a person in change fees in the event that passengers are able to make their own flight arrangements.

NCl also stated that it is refunding the cruise fares and will extend a future cruise credit based on the cruise fare paid.

AIS data show the ship has been moved from a pier in Old San Juan to a nearby dock so that the passengers can disembark.

This is not the first time that a NCL has been cancelled during a cruise in the Caribbean due to mechanical issues. One year ago, NCL had to suspend a cruise on the Norwegian Gem due to mechanical issues related to the ship’s azipod system. The cruise was suspended in Barbados and flew the passengers back to New York. NCL later offered a 25% discount on a future cruise.

The Norwegian Star underwent a series of azipod problems in December of 2016 and in January/February of 2017 during Asian and Australian itineraries, which resulted in cancellation of the cruises and refunds and cruise credits to the guests.

NCL states that its terms and conditions for the cruise permit it to “cancel, advance, postpone or substitute any scheduled sailing or itinerary without prior notice” due to “mechanical difficulties or any other reason whatsoever.”

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A copy of a more legible letter can be viewed here.

This past week, I received information from a reader of Cruise Law News who lives in Bergen Norway. He explained that the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) is using drones equipped with measuring instruments to test sulphur levels in ship emissions.

There is an article in the Maritime Authority’s latest publication, Navigare, regarding this issue. Translated, the article states “. . . a drone with measuring instruments was operated from the bridge of the Coast Guard vessel KV Tor. In the course of a week or so at the beginning of June, the drone was manoeuvred into exhaust discharge from several ships in the area and details of sulphur content immediately appeared on a data screen on board the Coast Guard vessel. The highest concentration was measured on the Portuguese flagged cruise ship Astoria as it was entering the harbour of Bergen.”

The NMA states that it is using the drone technology to hunt “sulphur sinners.”

The drones are owned by the Norwegian Coast Guard whereas the detectors are owned by the NMA.

An article in Bunkerspot which was published today states that the Norwegian Maritime Authority has carried out 205 inspections to check sulphur content in emissions from ships. Five violations were uncovered the ships received penalties of between $30,500 and $73,000.

As the IMO .5% sulphur limitation comes into effect in 2020, there will be an increasing number of cruise ships which violate the international restrictions on the amount of sulphur in fuel as well as the emission standards in states such as Alaska.

Today, I received a photograph (at top of this article) taken by a crew member which shows the exhaust plumes from the Norwegian Jewel and the Radiance of the Seas (as well as the Explorer of the Seas, obscured) in Skagway, Alaska. These cruise ships utilize scrubbers, rather than switching to cleaner but more expensive low-sulphur fuel. As you can see, the steam ends and the blue shaded exhaust emissions, which contain solid particulate matter, is evident. Alaska uses a subjective opaqueness test which is subject to a wide variety of non-objective interpretations. Cruise ship supporters often falsely claim that the cruise ship emissions are just steam from the ship’s stacks as opposed to harmful non-combustible particulate matter. Drones with sulphur detection systems will go a long way to objectively collect data in order to hold cruise ships accountable for violating air pollution laws and regulations.

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a 78-year-old passenger from the Norwegian Escape yesterday afternoon on September 22, 2018 after the man reportedly suffered a stroke on the cruise ship.

The NCL’s cruise ship was approximately 40 nautical miles south of Nantucket at the time of the medevac as the cruise ship was returning to New York from a weel long cruise to New England and Canada.

The Norwegian Escape had sailed from New York a week ago, on September 16th, and had sailed to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine and then to the Canadian ports of Saint John and Halifax.

The NCL ship reportedly notified the Coast Guard around 5 p.m. yesterday and the Coast Guard dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at around 7:30 P.M. which flew to the ship and hoisted the man and a nurse from the ship.

The passenger was flown to a hospital in Rhode Island where reportedly in stable condition.

Coast Guard medevacs like this funded for by U.S. taxpayers and are not paid for by either the passenger or the cruise line.

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Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard District One via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

Today, the Miami Daily Business Review (DBR) reported on an arbitration award entered against Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) on behalf of a seriously injured crew member.

The DBR article, titled “Miami Attorney Helps Secure $3.3M for Man Whose Arm Was Amputated After Seeking Care for Flu-Like Symptoms,” explains that the case involved a 30 year-old crew member from Serbia by the name of Ilija Loncar who was employed by NCL as a waiter aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

Mr. Loncar, who previously worked as a carpenter prior to working on the NCL cruise ship, was treated by the NCL shipboard team for flu-like symptoms in March of 2016. NCL had earlier hired a doctor, Sebastian Campuzano, who the arbitrator described as a “young, inexperienced, Columbia trained physician (licensed in 2013) who was hired by NCL just 4 months before the subject accident.”

Dr. Campuzano prescribed promethazine which the ship nurse injected in a massive dose too quickly, causing an intensely painful and  harmful reaction.  NCL then failed to timely medically evacuate Mr. Loncar from the ship, squandering any chance his arm could be saved.  As a result of the malpractice and delayed medical evacuation, Mr. Loncar developed Compartment Syndrone and required the eventual amputation of his dominant right arm.

The arbitrator’s decision reflects what appears to be completely abysmal medical care by an inept doctor and nurse who demonstrated a complete lack of basic medical knowledge, training and experience. The arbitrator found that: Dr. Campuzano had no experience or familiarity with the drug which he ordered to be mistakenly injected intravenously in Mr. Loncar’s arm rather than intramuscularly in his buttocks; he first attempted to schedule a consultation via the internet with a medical facility in South Florida for advice but he gave up after he could not establish a connection; he didn’t read the relevant physician desk book, medical literature, package inserts or warnings for the medication; he never warned Mr. Loncar of the risks associated with the medicine or obtain his informed consent; and he didn’t consider ordering a lower dosage or other medicines available on the ship which did not contain the risk of such catastrophic injury.

Dr. Campuzano tried to refute his deposition admissions after the fact via an “errata sheet” which the arbitrator rejected. The decision seems to indicate that the arbitrator did not find Dr. Campuzano or the ship nurse (Marco Oracion) or NCL’s defense particularly credible.

The case was the result of “arbitration.” NCL is one of many cruise lines which prohibit injured crew members from filing cases in the U.S. legal system and require them to pursue “arbitration” cases where a single arbitrator, paid by the cruise lines, applies the law of the Bahamas.  NCL started the trend toward arbitration after a decrepit, poorly maintained steam boiler on NCL’s 40+ year-old SS Norway exploded at the port of Miami in 2003. The explosion killed eight NCL crew members and seriously burned another nineteen crew members. NCL forced the families of the dead Filipinos to pursue the limited benefits permitted under Filipino law, as opposed to the full range of damages permitted under U.S. law.

The arbitration award, which you can view here, was rendered in June of this year. The arbitrator awarded past pain and suffering in the amount of $337,500, and $3,000,000 for future pain and suffering (estimated at 48 years), loss of future earning capacity (over the course of 35 years) and future medical expenses, including the replacement of the crew member’s prosthesis.

One of the reasons NCL requires arbitration (as opposed to a trial by a U.S. jury) is to keep awards to a minimum in catastrophic injury cases like this.

The case was handled by Thomas Scolaro and  Mason Kerns of the Leesfield Scolaro firm here in Miami. NCL was represented by  Curtis Mase and Larry Krutchik of the Mase, Mebane and Briggs firm.

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Photo credit: Dickelbers (Dick Elbers) CC 3.0 wikipedia / commons.

 

According to The Telegraph newspaper, NCL cruise executive Andy Stuart’s 83-year-old mother told the newspaper that Norwegian Star cruise guest Kay Longstaff, who went overboard as the cruise ship was heading back to Venice three days ago,

“. . . didn’t fall off. She jumped. This has cost Norwegian Cruise Line $600,000. This stupid woman.”

Mr. Suart’s mother told the U.K. newspaper that he was upset that Ms. Longstaff caused “massive disruption to fellow passengers while costing Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.”

Over the years, I have written many dozens of articles about people going overboard from cruise ships.  One of the first things that readers think when a passenger (or cruise employee) goes overboard is that “you can’t fall from a cruise ship.”

Most of the time, the person who goes over the rails of a cruise ship is not rescued.  In fact, less than 15% of people who go into the sea are rescued. They die at sea. But that doesn’t stop cynics from attacking the dead cruisers as being “stupid.”  Considering that 319 people have gone overboard in the last two decades according to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this means that well over 250 families have grieved or are grieving the loss of a family member lost at sea from a cruise ship.

The cruise industry does not bother to keep statistics of the number of people who go overboard, or the reasons why they do, choosing instead to label their disappearances to be the “result of an intentional or reckless act,” as pointed out by NPR in a recent article.

The “intentional or reckless act” is a talking point from the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization (“CLIA”). CLIA, of course, claims that cruising is “one of the safest forms of travel” and claims that it is impossible to go overboard unless cruise guests act recklessly.

Over-intoxication is the leading cause of passengers going overboard from cruise ships, by far. Pushing alcohol during cruises is a fundamental part of the cruise business. Bar and tavern owners know that customers often act recklessly when they are over-served alcohol. Things are no different on the high seas.

Just last week, a jury in Miami heard testimony about Samantha Broberg,  a guest on the Carnival Liberty. In 2016, Carnival served her 19 drinks over the course of the day and evening, rendering her well past the point of obvious intoxication. She staggered out of the cruise ship bar after 1:30 A.M., sat on a railing in a drunken stupor, and fell into the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The cruise ship did not have an automatic man overboard system installed, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which President Obama signed into law and became effective in 2012.

Such a system would have instantly signaled the bridge that a person went over the railing, captured the person’s image and tracked the person in the water, even at night, via combination of motion-detection, infrared and radar technology.  Carnival eventually resorted to reviewing CCTV images after-the-fact once the woman’s friends reported her missing around 11:00 A.M. the next morning and searching the ship even though the woman went into the water several hundreds of nautical miles earlier. Carnival eventually contacted the United States Coast Guard around 5:00 P.M the following day while it continued heading back to its home port in Galveston.

Ms. Bromberg’s body was never found.

Ms. Bromberg left behind a loving husband and four children.  But that didn’t stop the cruise cynics from calling her drunk and stupid.”

Like Carnival, NCL doesn’t seem to have installed an automatic man overboard system on the Norwegian Star.  So when Ms. Longstaff went over the rails late at night, perhaps just like Ms. Broberg did two-and-one-half years earlier, the ship’s bridge was not automatically and immediately notified. The ship continued sailing until her friends notified the ship that they could not find her.

After turning around to search for her many hours later, the NCL cruise ship eventually abandoned the search and returned to Venice, arriving around 3:00 P.M. rather than the scheduled 8:00 A.M. The cruise ship was full of upset passengers who were agitated that they had missed their flights home and had to look for a hotel.

As explained in articles by Quartz and NPR, this is the second time in two months that NCL abandoned a search for an overboard guest or cruise employee and returned to the ship’s home port due to pressure from  angry passengers and in order to re-rack the ships with new guests for the next cruise.  The same thing happened with the Norwegian Getaway last month when the Getaway decided to head back to Miami after a short search for a crew member who had jumped overboard, leaving the Coast Guard during the middle of the search. (The crew member was eventually rescued the next day by a passing Carnival cruise ship,)

It’s bitterly ironic that NCL cruise CEO Stuart, or his mom, would complain about Ms. Longstaff’s going overboard when its was NCL which probably over-served her alcohol in the first place, and didn’t equip its cruise ship with an automatic man overboard system even though it knows that other intoxicated guests have disappeared overboard during cruises.  It was also NCL which abandoned its search for her as she treaded water for over 10 hours in the Adriatic Sea.

And as far as NCL having to allegedly pay for their guests’ airfare and hotel accommodations in Venice? Hogwash.  NCL has a well deserved penny-pinching reputation for never paying for missed ports or cruises gone wrong though its own negligence. It has never reimbursed its guests’ airfare or hotel accommodations caused by a delayed return to port following a passenger lost at sea. It’s preposterous to believe that NCL allegedly paid anything to the guests who they dumped in Venice at the end of the ill-fated cruise, much less $600,000 as claimed by Mr. Stuart’s mom in the Telegraph.

Most of the passengers who have contacted me about this case complain that NCL refuses to reimburse them for their airfare changes and hotel expenses due to the the Star’s late return to Venice.

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Here are just a couple of automatic man overboard systems available to the cruise industry (there are several others):

MARSS Mobtronic

Pure Tech

Photo credit:  Croatian Coast Guard, Harbour Master’s Office, Rijeka via ABC News.

 

A passenger on a cruise ship visiting Alaska last week had the measles, according to health officials at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, prompting concerns that other cruise passengers as well as air travelers may spread the virus.

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports that a teenager from Japan boarded the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship on August 6, 2018 for an Alaskan cruise, after flying from Tokyo to Vancouver a week earlier.

The cruise guest reportedly sailed aboard the Jewel which docked in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before the cruise ended in Seward, Alaska.

The newspaper states that before the cruise, the girl experienced a rash, fever and cold-like symptoms after she travelled to  Thailand. She apparently had not been vaccinated for measles, mumps, or rubella.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reportedly warned health care providers to look out for measles-like symptoms (rashes, runny noses, fevers, white spots and/or red eyes) from other passengers who may have contracted the disease.

The initial news accounts did not identify the cruise ship or cruise line with some accounts, like Radio Canada, mentioning only that an unnamed ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line was involved.

The cruise passenger had flown to and from Portland before she went on the cruise from Vancouver.

Health officials stated that they believe the girl boarded the cruise ship with her parents on the fourth day after her symptoms began, which suggests that she was not highly contagious. The disease apparently has an incubation period of 7-21 days. Anyone who may have contracted the virus is expected to show symptoms before August 27th.

The Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia noted that measles is a highly infectious airborne disease, although transmission is reportedly unlikely.

Four years ago, a crew member aboard an unidentified cruise ship sailing to Alaska developed measles leading to concern that he may have infected cruise passengers.  A cruise passenger contacted us, indicating that she and other passengers aboard the Norwegian Pearl may have been exposed to the virus.

Earlier, a measles outbreak has occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship; an Italian newspaper reported that that dozens of cruise passengers were probably infected with the virus that causes measles.

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Photo credit: By A.jo Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

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

 

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.

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NCL Cruises Venice

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. 

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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

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