The United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from a NCL cruise ship yesterday off of Southern California.

The Norwegian Star requested assistance on Thursday morning from the Coast Guard after a 68-year-old man began experiencing problems related his heart.

The cruise ship was approximately 310 miles at sea but diverted toward shore in order to meet a Coast Guard helicopter which flew 200 miles west from San Diego.

The passenger was hoisted aboard the helicopter and flown to San Diego. Emergency medical services personnel then transferred the passenger to UC San Diego Medical Center.  The Coast Guard says the man was reported to be in stable condition.

Video credit: Video by Seaman Taylor BaconU.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET San Diego via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

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.

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

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 person has gone overboard from the Norwegian Star cruise ship, according to a passenger on the Norwegian cruise ship who contacted me this morning.

The Norwegian Star was returning to Venice, Italy from a “7-Night Greek Isles from Venice” cruise when a person went overboard after the ship left from Dubrovnik, Croatia and before it reached Venice. The cruise began in Venice and sailed to Kotor and several ports in Greece before stopping in Dubrovnik.

The passenger complained that the Star was delayed returning to Venice until around 3:00 P.M. local time rather than its scheduled time of 8:00 A.M.

There are unconfirmed reports that a passenger went overboard from the ship, apparently late last night/early this morning.

The AIS data show that the Norwegian Star eventually retraced its route and apparently conducted a search in north Adriatic Sea off of the coast of Croatia before eventually heading back to Venice. After NCL stopped searching, the Croatian Coast Guard reportedly located and reportedly rescued the overboard person.

If this information is accurate, this is the second recent case where an overboard person from a NCL cruise ship was rescued after NCL abandoned the search and returned to the home port.  Six weeks ago, a crew member from the Norwegian Getaway jumped overboard and was eventually rescued the following day by the Carnival Glory north of Cuba. Newspapers reported that the person was rescued approximately 22 hours later, but the time was actually more like 35 hours from the time that the crew member went overboard early in the morning. The Getaway had ended its search (while the U.S. Coast Guard continued its efforts) and returned to Miami after cruise passengers complained bitterly that a late return to port would cause them to miss their return flights home after the cruise.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 319 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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August 19, 2018 @11:00 A.M. Update: The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that the British woman was rescued by the Croatian Coast Guard.

 

 

Norwegian StarSeveral passengers onboard the Norwegian Star state that the NCL cruise ship is returning to Miami a day early due to a medical emergency.

One passenger on the ship writes:

"The Norwegian Star is speeding to Miami, to arrive 10 hours early due to a passenger medical emergency onboard. The Star will now arrive at 6 PM on Sunday instead of 4 AM Monday. Passengers other than the medical evacuee must remain on board until the regular disembarkation date . . . "

If this information is in fact accurate, it seems odd that the Star has not contacted the U.S. Coast Guard to request a helicopter medevac.

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

Last month, I wrote about an azipod failure on the Norwegian Star which resulted in the NCL ship limping around on an altered Asian itinerary, much to the frustration of cruise vacationers.  It seems that instead of sending the ship to dry dock, NCL arranged to send the azipod contractors aboard to repair the ship while it was sailing. They apparently fixed the problem but the other azipod has now apparently failed:

According to a message which from a crew member on the Norwegian Star today:

"I’m writing to you again from the unlucky Norwegian Star! I wrote to you sometime in December when we broke down in Singapore at the beginning of our Asian season . . .  yesterday 25th of January, while at sea we experienced problems again, this timer with other engine, "the old one!" So now thatNCL Norwegian Star one is offline… Today, 26th, in Bali, Indonesia, captain made announcement that we are changing the itinerary AGAIN this cruise, skipping 3 ports and adding sea days in order to reach Sydney in time. At the beginning of the cruise (before 23rd, Singapore) we already skipped places and for that everybody received 200$ for onboard account, today, that was changed to 500$. But of course, guests are NOT happy and poor guys at the reception and the security are getting pounded heavily by raging crowd . . . I feel sorry for them because it is not their fault or any other crew member for a broken engine and Miami office made a decision about refunds and amounts, not onboard management . . . So the stricken Norwegian Star is going AGAIN through some very hard times . . ."

I also received this message from a passenger’s family:

"I have been contacted by relatives on Norwegian Cruiseline NCL Star. They left Singapore earlier this week and are on the way to Australia. Azipod failure again and they have been told their day in Brisbane is canceled, and their trip to the barrier reef is off. This was the reason my relative took the cruise in the first place, so he is very annoyed – it was his 70th birthday present and he has waited over a year to take this cruise. This cruise already can celled part of the itinerary before leaving due to the delays on the previous cruise. So far, they have been offered no refund of this cruise – have been bunged some on-ship credit to spend and 50% off the next cruise. They are not happy bunnies!! There is nothing on the internet about this yet, so please can you inform everyone. I don’t see how NCL keep getting away with NCL Norwegian Starthis – there is an obvious issue with this ship and they just keep taking people’s money and canceling the planned trips."

January 27, 2017 Update:

I received photographs (right and below) of what is happening on the Norwegian Star and comments from a passenger which say in part: 

"This is what is happening here on the Norwegian Star at noon on Friday 27th January 2017!

We are on board NCL Star and it is desperate to say the least. To say that things have virtually descended to mob rule would not be an understatement.

As I write this there are more than 500 people demonstrating in the main atrium, shouting in unison ‘Shame on Norwegian’, ‘Where’s the Captain?’, ‘Boo, Boo, Boo’!

This has been going on for over two hours today and the same yesterday evening. I attach three photographs that I have taken within the last hour.

The ship has engine propulsion problems again and the itinerary has been changed once again with another three ports having been cancelled meaning that we are now only stopping at half of the planned ports on this three week cruise.

The main thing that seems to be causing mass unrest is not the fact that the ship has engine problems but the fact that this is the same fault as the ship has had many times previously and that people have been miss sold this long cruise when Norwegian Cruise Line clearly knew there were ongoing problems with the ship.

Documents have been circulated by some guests showing that this problem has been ongoing for months, and a ships log that has been produced on board which shows that the same propulsion faults also occurred on 17 October 2015 and again on 11 December 2016, there are other dates for similar issues in the report also.

During the peak of the demonstrations no officers were to be seen, the Captain has not been seen for the whole cruise and the reception desk are merely handing out comments cards to whose who want to complain. People are absolutely furious about how we are being treated here – ­there is just no leadership! We have been told by staff that there is nothing that staff on board can do because they need to wait to hear from Miami ­- but we have been waiting for nearly two days now! This lack of action seems to be infuriating people more and more . . . ."

January 28. 2017 Update:

". . . There were more demos today and captain eventually made an appearance after more chanting ‘where’s the captain’. NCL flying some execs in from Miami to speak to us at sometime tomorrow . . ."  

January 30, 2017 Update: NCL offers passengers aboard the Norwegian Star 100% of cruise fare towards a future cruise in addition to onboard credit of $500 per first and second guest ($1,000 per stateroom).  See letter here.

February 9, 2017 Update: The Star is dead in the water.  I received dozens of emails today from passengers on the NCL cruise ship saying that the remaining azapood failed shortly after leaving Melbourne, Australia (although A/C, electricity and water remain on). Here’s one: "We are on the Norwegian Star and our complete propulsion system has failed. We are unable to maneuver and wait for help. Thank goodness before the coast of Australia and not in the middle of the Tasmanian Sea! The plan is to return to Melbourne for repair. For all friends and relatives: we are not in danger! Everything except the drive works and help is on the move. All stops in New Zealand are canceled…."

Another comment: "100% refund on this cruise and 50% on future cruise good for 5 years.. Also not the commotion of last cruise and no protests. Very orderly. Tugs are on way, should be here by 5pm and then we should be back in Melbourne by early evening on Saturday. Also giving 300 for airline changes or 350 if you decide to fly to Auckland."

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Photo credit: above – Top – Pjotr Mahhonin – CC BY-SA 3.0; commons / wikimedia; middle and bottom – anonymous.

NCL Norwegian Star

Norwegian StarI received this message from a crew member of the Norwegian Star:

"At the moment I am on NCL Star and we are in Singapore, still in Singapore!

We were scheduled to leave on 11th at 6 pm for 11 days to Hong Kong. We got delayed because it took forever for immigration to process the guests! Some guests were held for 5 hours in the terminal. So finally at 8 pm after we finished all that captain made an announcement that can’t actually leave due to the engine problems. Half an hour after half an hour announcement we stayed over night.  And we are staying at the moment in Singapore until 3 pm on 13th of December. One engine is down and some electrical issues with azipods. 

This is not the first time, after a dry dock few years back ship broke down right away and the first cruise was canceled and ship returned to the dry dock for repairs. And few months ago we could not sail out of Stockholm at 4 pm to have a sea day the next day to reach Copenhagen for embarkation. We reached Copenhagen at 4pm with absolute nightmare caused to the guest booking flights on their own.

This cruise is already fully refunded to the guests and they will get 50% off the next cruise they choose."

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

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

December 12, 2016 Update: Speed to be restricted; new itinerary below (via a travel agent).

December 20, 2016 Update: NCL has notofied its travel agents and future passengers that the intinerary of the Norwegian Star starting on January 16, 2017 has changed. This is the email received:

"Norwegian Cruise Line has important information for you regarding Norwegian Star’s 21-Day Southeast Asia sailing of January 16 to February 6, 2017 from Hong Kong, China. All guests booked on this sailing need to be aware of this change.

On the evening of December 10, while departing the port of Singapore, Norwegian Star experienced a technical issue with one of the ship’s Azipods. As a result of this technical issue, Norwegian Star will have to sail a revised itinerary for the January 16 to February 6, 2017 sailing from Hong Kong, China.

Please review the revised itinerary information below:

As a gesture of our thanks for our guests’ understanding of this unforeseen delay and change in itinerary, we will provide a $200 shipboard credit per stateroom. If you pre purchased shore excursions for Thailand, those will be refunded and posted to your onboard account."

NCL Norwegian Star

January 3, 2017 Update: A local ABC news station in Jacksobville aired a video of an unhappy NCL customer who took her first cruise on the Norwegian Star.

January 26, 2017 UpdateNCL’s Norwegian Star Suffers Engine Failure Again.

NCL Norwegian StarPassengers aboard NCL’s Norwegian Star are telling me that the ship’s azipod system has failed. The cruise ship is skipping Miami today and is heading for Tampa one day early. One passenger said that the next cruise is reportedly canceled. (The cancellation of the next cruise is not confirmed information. Please double check this information with your travel agents or the cruise line).

Another passenger said that he did not know whether the next cruise on Monday is canceled. He told me that the captain made the announcement about the azipod problems and said that "all communication with us has been absolutely clear, giving us free internet and phone calls and helping us to change hotel, and transportation bookings. Although it not an ideal situation the crew has behaved amazingly in this transatlantic and they have always provided us with transparent information."

This ship experienced propulsion problems earlier this year which were supposedly fixed while in dry dock.

Anyone have additional info?

Photo Credit:  Pjotr Mahhonin Creative Commons Via Wikipedia

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there is an outbreak of gastrointestinal sickness of a large percentage of cruise passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas cruise ship.

The CDC indicates that 281 passengers (9.21% of total passengers) are suffering from norovirus type of symptoms. The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches and diarehhea. You can read the report here

The pro-cruise site Cruise Critic calls the problem a "small outbreak" but the truth is that 9% is a high percentage.  It is not unusual for passengers not to report the illness in order to avoid being Explorer of the Seasquarantined in the cabin or for crew members who rely on tips to keep working after they are ill. The total numbers are often under-reported.

In addition to sick passengers, 22 crew members are reportedly ill according to the CDC. 

The CDC website states that an environmental health officer and an epidemiologist will board the ship in St. Thomas, USVI on January 26, 2014 to conduct an epidemiologic investigation. 

It may be possible to determine whether the outbreak is in fact related to norovirus. But the CDC will not have any success is determining why and how the virus came aboard. There is not enough time for the CDC to conduct an exhaustive scientific analysis and, as usual, the ship will not sit idle waiting for the test results. The cruise ship will continue to sail whether the CDC determines if it is norovirus or exactly why it is on the ship. 

Earlier this week, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein indicated that the CDC reported 130 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastrointestinal illness while cruising aboard the NCL Norwegian Star

The Majesty of the Seas returned to Miami a week ago with 70 people reported ill with gastrointestinal illnesses.

Were the outbreaks on the Royal Caribbean and NCL ships caused by the passengers not washing their hands? That’s always what the cruise lines say.

Or was it due to crew members who kept working after they became sick and causing the outbreak? Or was it contaminated food or water, which is a common cause?

We will never know. The cause of gastrointestinal outbreaks is usually a mystery on cruise ships.

 

Have a comment? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page – what’s the most common cause of norovirus on cruise ships?  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Emma Jones

Cruise Ships - New OrleansLast month, two cruise ships from Miami-based cruise lines arrived in New Orleans. NCL’s Norwegian Star, with capacity for around 2,300 passengers, transitioned to the "Big Easy" and relieved the Norwegian Spirit which had been home-ported there.  

Royal Caribbean moved the Navigator of the Seas, a larger ship with a capacity of around 3,100 passengers, into the port of New Orleans where its Voyager of the Seas had been based.  

The cruise ships are based at the renovated Julia Street Terminal.  Both ships will be positioned in New Orleans for six months. 

The Port of New Orleans set a port record for cruise ship passengers for a two day period on November 17th to 18th when a total of almost 25,000 passengers arrived or departed on cruise ships. According to the Port of New Orleans, in 2011 736,908 passengers passed through the port. New Orleans is considered to be a "top 10" U.S. cruise port with 1,000,000 passengers expected by the end of this year. 

I lived in New Orleans from 1980 to 1987 before coming to Miami. I have warm memories of my time there at law school at Tulane and as a young lawyer.  During those years, the cruise industry was much smaller and there were no cruise ships based in New Orleans.  Now there are ships operated by NCL, Royal Caribbean and Carnival.  

One of the benefits of cruising out of New Orleans is the pre-cruise and post-cruise overnight stays in downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. You can’t beat the great food, the bars and late night cafe’ au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde.

I think it’s time for Cruise Law to open up a maritime law office back in New Orleans!    

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=vIiUe_a1J5k%3Frel%3D0

Photo Credit; AP / Andy Newman

A passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas video-taped the collision with the NCL Norwegian Star last week (September 14, 2012) in port in Bermuda.  The NCL ship was hit by high winds (75 MPH) which caused the Star to break away from its mooring lines and strike the stern of the Royal Caribbean ship.

The video was shot from the Windjammer cafe and you can hear the passengers excitedly chattering and sometimes laughing throughout the incident. A Royal Caribbean officer appears in the video and says "you hit my ship!"

The video is by Floobboober (YouTube):

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=rH9Lv8gwqqE%3Frel%3D0