Last week, a senior vice president of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) spoke to the residents of Rockland, Maine, in an effort to try and convince them that cruise lines will be respectful of Rockland’s environment.

We wrote about the meeting in our article titled CLIA visits Rockland.

Several residents brought to my attention a claim made by Brian Salerno, CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, that the sludge from cruise ship smokestack scrubbers (designed to reduce emissions, primarily sulfur),  is stored onboard and offloaded, allegedly, only at facilitates ashore. He promised that the cruise industry would not dump the sludge overboard,  where the particulate matter and sulfur sludge obviously would pollute the water and foul the local beaches and port facilities.

The CLIA representative said that the cruise ship scrubber processing equipment “ultimately collects sludge” which “has to be disposed of properly ashore.”

You can hear Mr. Salermo make these precise statements to the Rockland residents here.

As I suspected, the CLIA representative’s comments appear to be patently false.

As cruise expert Professor Ross Klein points out on his CruiseJunkie site, a cruise ship recently (just last week) discharged scrubber sludge into the state waters of Alaska.  Professor Klein cites the recent article by KRBD Community Radio in Ketchikan, Alaska which reported that on July 23rd, port personnel from the City of Ketchikan observed discharge coming from the exhaust system scrubbers on the Star Princess cruise ship when it was at a berth in the port in Ketchikan.  This sludge discharge followed complaints by the public of an earlier discharge from the Golden Princess cruise ship. The city directed the ships to cease discharging scrubber processing waste while in port.

You can see a photograph of the sludge discharged in port here.

These actions directly contradict the statements by CLIA that it never discharges sludge from smokestack scrubbers into the water and, further, that CLIA cruise ships discharge nothing while a ship is in or near port.  Mr. Salerno made a point of claiming that cruise lines promise not only to comply with federal and international pollution regulations but they claim to always exceed these standards. He claimed that this is a mandatory CLIA requirement and a condition of membership in the cruise trade organization.

It should be noted that not only did cruise ships recently discharge scrubber sludge in the local waters of Alaskaa but the discharge occurred from cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises which was involved in prior incidents of widespread illegal discharges.  Princess of course, is the cruise line which illegally discharged oily waste from its fleet of cruise ships for nearly a decade and was fined $40,000,000 by the DOJ. (Princess Cruises, owned by parent company Carnival Corporation, of course, remains a member of CLIA).  The Star Princess and the Golden Princess (among other cruise ships operated by Princess) were both implicated in Princess’ notorious use of “magic pipes” to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitors in the required pollution prevention equipment.

The Port and Harbors director in Ketchikan informed KRBD that the discharge from scrubbers may technically be permitted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, although the discharge may have violated the state water quality regulations of Alaska.

CLIA made a big deal during its meeting with the residents of Rockland of stating that CLIA promised not only to comply with U.S. and international pollution standards but to never discharge anything within the state territorial waters where it sails its cruise ships.

This is reminiscent of an incident in 2003 when a cruise ship operated by Crystal Cruises dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. Crystal had promised earlier not to foul the marine sanctuary’s waters.

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal said that it didn’t have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is “perfectly legal” under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said a Crystal spokesperson, Mimi Weisband.

“We didn’t break any law,” Weisband said. “We did break a promise.”

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

The residents of Rockland would be wise to learn a lesson from Monterey 15 years ago and from Ketchikan just last week.

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Photo credit: Crystal Harmony – rpieket – CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A dispute is brewing in the Bahamas over a tug boat fee that the government plans to charge cruise ships and other commercial vessels using the harbor of Nassau.

Earlier this week, the Bahamas Tribune reported that the Miami-based cruise industry believes that it does not need tug service in the port of Nassau.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA), through its president Michele Paige, told the Tribune newspaper that the cruise industry was “fundamentally opposed” to paying for the tug service in Nassau harbor. FCCA is claiming that the new fee will result in additional unwarranted costs, which will make the Bahamas cruise experience “more expensive.”

The two new tug boats, named Tug Samson and Tug Rose, will be operated by a 100% Bahamian-owned and operated company, called Tug Services Ltd, according to the Tribune. The Bahamas has come to the conclusion that the new tugs are necessary to maintain adequate services for the Port of Nassau commercial vessels calling at its port. Bahamian officials cite the need for reliable service during poor weather and in emergencies, in addition to regular tug services needed for firefighting, oil spill recovery, salvage capabilities and the safe movement of cruise and cargo ships in and out of the harbor.

The Bahamas is attempting to upgrade Nassau’s cruise port, at Prince George Wharf, to reverse declining revenues from passenger spending at the port.

The FCCA always disputes any cost increases which are levied against the cruise lines. The FCCA even fought against the reasonable attempts to increase the pilotage fees sought by the Biscayne Bay Pilots here in Miami.

As I have said before many times, the only cost increases permitted by the cruise lines are those levied against their guests for things like mandatory tips and gratuities, drink increases or room service charges. The cruise industry likes to demand control everything it touches, whether it is the taxes imposed by the state of Alaska for environmental protection and infrastructure, or the minimal head taxes of the poor Caribbean ports. It steals the tips intended from its powerless foreign crew members and nickels and dimes all of its passengers to collect every penny it can.

But paying for the costs of two new tugs in one of its most popular cruise ports?  $700 for a tug into port in Nassau? No way says the FCCA, even though the cruise industry collects tens of millions of dollars with increased gratuities and on on-board charges.

A Bahamian cabinet minister is defending the mandatory tug boat fee for Nassau harbor, telling the Bahamian newspaper that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Nassau reportedly may be an easy port for cruise ships to dock in but it has not stopped Florida-based cruise lines from occasionally smashing into its docks, as a Disney cruise ship proved last year (video below). Perhaps a couple of well maintained tugs would help. The cruise industry seems to smash into piers in numerous cruise ports from time to time, like in Roatan, Ketchikan, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, Nice, Messina, PireausMarseille, and New York to name a few. But the majority of these incidents are not friendly little fender-benders like the Disney cruise ship mishap in Nassau.

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Photo credit: Port of Nassau – View of Prince George Wharf – TampAGS wikipedia – creative commons 3.0

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ilekd7_Kodw%3Frel%3D0

 

In Falmouth, Jamaica, the Port Authority of Jamaica is continuing to pursue dredging projects in order to permit the gigantic "mega liners," including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class (sometimes called "Genesis-class") cruise ships to squeeze into the port, which was rebuilt in 2011. During the construction of the two new two piers, the port was originally dredged.    

Jamaica has a goal of boosting the numbers of cruise visitors, seemingly irrespective of the damage which dredging will cause to the environment around the port. At the urging of Miami-based cruise lines, the government of Jamaica intends to dredge the southern berth of the port at Falmouth this year. This will cause significant further destruction of the reefs around the port in order to allow two Oasis-class vessels to dock at the same time.

This is part of the plan recently touted by the Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness which Falmouth Jamaica Portfeatures further dredging the port of Falmouth, referred to alternatively in the Jamaican Gleaner as the "jewel of the Caribbean" or "the region’s number one destination" for cruise shipping.

Prime Minister Holness stated to the Jamiacan newspaper that the Falmouth pier ‘"was built in anticipation for not only the growing demands of the cruise industry, but also the fact that cruise ships were "getting bigger by the day." He was quoted as saying "it wasn’t that long ago when we had ships with a carrying capacity of say 2,000 being touted as the largest cruise ships in the world. Since then, we have seen a number of vessels earning that title. We have had Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and now, we have Harmony of the Seas, with its 2,747 staterooms, and 8,550 guests and staff on 16 decks."

The Prime Minister noted that it was an "excellent idea to have constructed this port. We can now host the mega liners and all the Oasis Class vessels."

Six years ago, in my article titled Royal Caribbean’s New Port in Falmouth, Jamaica – At What Cost to the Environment?, I cited the article of Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? by Michael Behar, who wrote that in Falmouth, Royal Caribbean oversaw the smashing of "a quarter-mile-wide opening in an offshore barrier reef. They dredged coral, both living and dead, as well as the rock substrate, and trucked it inland to a two-square-mile dump site — a clear-cut area on the outskirts of town that was once a thriving red mangrove swamp. Now all that’s left is 35 million cubic feet of pulverized coral and rubble. When I visit the site with Roland Haye, a Jamaican environmental activist, he tells me, ‘As a boy, I used to play Tarzan here and see crocodile. It was a winter home for great heron and swan.’ He points out broken conch shells, dismembered starfish, bits of sea sponge, and severed lobes of brain coral." 

In that article, I wrote that the removal of the natural reef exposes the shore to pounding of the waves from the adjacent bay.  "When I visited (back in 2012) , I observed that the road . . .  to Falmouth, previously protected from the pounding of the by the reef, was literally covered with water from the encroaching waves. The road was already eroding . . ."

Yesterday, a friend of mine in Montego Bay filmed a short video from his cell phone as he drove into Falmouth. The video shows the bay’s waters from the now destroyed reef system lapping over the deteriorating roadway into the port of Falmouth.   

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Photo credit: Falmouth Port (above) – Jim Walker

https://youtube.com/watch?v=a7gOaj5Sb6E%3Frel%3D0

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.   

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

Today, at the port of Barcelona, the Fantastic ferry from the Italian shipping company, Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), collided with the Viking Star cruise ship operated by Viking Cruises. 

There were no injuries involved in the mishap which took place around noon local time.

The incident was brought to my attention by a reader of this blog. 

The Fantastic is a cruise-ferry / roll-on roll-off ship ("ro-ro") which carries passengers and vehicles. 

A video, reportedly was taken by a stevedore from one of the cranes at the container terminal in Barcelona, ​​shows the Italian ferry moving toward the cruise ship.

The Fantastic ferry apparently dropped an anchor to try and stop the drift of the ferry into the cruise ship after the Fantastic’s engines failed in the harbor.

There were other cruise ships in Barcelona at the time of the accident, operated by AIDA, Costa and MSC.

The incident was published in the VanGuardia newspaper in Barelona in an article titled Scare in the Harbor

January 13, 2018 Update: Express Newspaper ‘This could have ended in tragedy’ Shocking moment ferry HITS cruise liner

Video: VanGuardia 

Bomb Scare Caribbean PrincessThis morning, a person aboard the Caribbean Princess notified me that there is a bomb scare aboard the cruise ship, which is at the Grand Bahama shipyard. The worker stated:

“I am currently on board the Caribbean Princess in the Grand Bahama Shipyard where today a bomb threat was called in to the shipyard. The ship performed a complete check and at 10 am the captain gave the abandon ship order. The ship has been evacuated and all contractors and crew were mustered outside the shipyard. We are awaiting further instructions.

Have a good day because my day and thousands others are having a bad day.

We were mustered away from the shipyard and were told no pictures.”

The Caribbean Princess is in dry dock for general maintenance. Many thousands of contractors and crew members are now re-locating to Port Lucaya.

The worker also stated:

“Of course the Bahamian taxis are making a fortune off off this event. It’s funny to see crew members in uniform strolling around . . .

I can report that very few police were present and one ambulance. No bomb squad or dogs were visible.

A lot of work has now been delayed due to this and a lot of frustration is in the air . . . ”

The Carnival Pride and Carnival Ecstasy are in port in Freeport today, as well as the Anna Maersk which is at the container port across from the shipyard.  There is no indication whether these ships were the subject of this bomb threat.

The question which immediately comes to my mind is whether the Bahamian police are competent to handle the response to a major security threat like this?

There have been bomb threats against cruise ships in the past, and they are usually determined to be pranks. A drunken Carnival passenger who made a bomb threat on the Carnival Sensation was arrested several years ago after a cruise to the Bahamas which was later determined to be a hoax. The Discovery cruise ship received a bogus bomb threat as the ship was en route to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale after sailing to the Bahamas. A bomb was reportedly planted on the Liberty of the Seas several years ago as well, although nothing was found by law enforcement officers. A bomb scare forced the evacuation of the cruise terminal at the port of Miami.  Passengers and crew members had to flee a ferry in Marseilles, France last year after a bomb scare.

April 1, 2017 Update: The popular Crew-Center website has additional information and photographs and video of crew members and contrators leaving the ship, congregating at the shipyard and leaving the shipyard.

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Image credit: Marine Traffic

Belize CityOn September 13, 2016, a passenger on the Carnival Magic was robbed at gunpoint at the port of Belize. We received the following information from the passenger:

"We were at the port next to the belize sign taking pictures. A vendor selling wood and jewelry was trying to sell us some of his handmade work when a male on a bicycle threw down his bike and pointed a gun at me. He then put it under his shirt when my friend turned around. My friend thought it was a joke and wasn’t cooperating that’s when the man pulled the gun back out racked it and pointed it at us. He told us to empty our pockets. My friend gave him 15$ all he had left and I gave him 25$ he then saw my phone and told me to give it to him. I delayed giving to him as I was thinking about my options. After a few moments I decided it wasn’t worth it and gave it to him. He then started yelling at my friend to give him his wallet which he did not have. The man then asked where it was my friend replied in my room. Finally the male said don’t make this a big deal and got back on his bike and rolled away. I preceded to run to the first police officer I could find and let them know what happened. The police had several officer driving around in cars and motorcycles trying to find the assailant. They told us it was the 1st time in 2 years this happened in or by the port. They could not locate him and took us to the police station where we gave statements and made reports. 2 hrs later they took us back to the port where we went back on the ship and made report to carnival. They said it never happens. Made report to guest services then wrote statement to security and told me to call corporate office when I get off ship. Called the office they did not seem to care much and I told them why do they go to unsafe ports their reply was this never happens. To future cruisers I would suggest to not get off on this port."

Carnival contacted the passenger after the cruise, stating that it is going to increase awareness with cruise guests and also increase police and security at that port.

Last March, cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint while on an excursion at the Altun Ha Maya ruins site in Belize. Earlier in March, a couple in Belize from a cruise ship reported that they were victims of an attempted armed robbery near the Museum of Belize.

As we mentioned in our last article, the Minister of Tourism of Belize was quoted earlier this year saying that that violent crime has been decreasing in the country. He said that over one million people visited Belize last year and crime against tourists was "rare."

Carnival and other cruise lines which call on this port should issue warnings to their guests that these type of crimes have occurred at port, in Belize City and during excursions from the port.

Source of information: Carlos Martinez

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September 29, 2016 Update: Several people pointed out that the Belize sign near where the robbery took place is outside of the gates to the port. So the robbery did not technically take place "at the port" to the extent that this means "in the port." 

Robbery Belize Cruise Port

Robbery Belize Cruise Port

 

Jean Nicoli Ferry ExplosionNewspapers in Europe are reporting that seventy-seven passengers and crew members were evacuated from a ferry and pier at the port of Joliette, in Marseilles, France after "after loud noises were heard below deck.’

The ferry was identified as the Jean Nicoli which was scheduled to leave for Sardinia this morning.  

Mail Online says that France deployed "heavily armed soldiers and police to its ports in fear of ISIS jihadis boarding ferries." The enhanced port security follows the ISIS inspired truck attack on Bastille Day in Nice, France which killed 84 people and the killing of a priest in a Normandy church.

But there seems to be uncertainty regarding what caused the explosion and where it occurred. 

While the UK based newspapers initially speculated that the explosion might have been caused by a terrorist organization, the media in France concluded that the explosion came from a bomb from the Second World War. The French newspaper Le Figaro suggested that the explosion was allegedly caused by a bomb left from World War II.

Mail Online’s article was originally titled "Marseilles ferry passengers and crew flee after "explosion" heard amid fears of ISIS attack."  The newspaper changed it to "Panic as 77 passengers and crew evacuated from a ferry in Marseilles after WWI ammunition "explodes" in the seabed."

It remains unclear whether the bomb was intentionally or accidentally exploded.

The bomb reportedly did not cause any damage to the ferry or injuries to the passengers or crew.

Photo Credit: Atlantico – "Marseilles: an explosion near the Seaport causes the evacuation of a ferry."

The Jamaica Gleaner reports that Royal Caribbean and it’s subsidiary, Falmouth Jamaica Land Company, are required to disclose their contractual arrangements with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) to build Falmouth Port because they were a day late in filing a notice of appeal.

An environmental watchdog group, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), had previously requested copies of the contracts and other documents between Royal Caribbean / Falmouth Jamaica Land Company and the PAJ which had formed a joint venture to develop the Port of Falmouth in Trelawny. The controversial project was spearheaded by Royal Caribbean and involved the dredging and filling of the old port of Falmouth. It turned out, as many environmentalists feared, to be a disaster to the local environment of Falmouth.  Millions of cubic feet of living coral reefs were pulverized and then dumped on dozens of acres of native mangrove fields to build a port capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.  

The finished port left many local residents disappointed due to the fact that most passengers either did not leave the walled port facility and invest much in the local economy or were whisked away Falmouth Jamaica Royal Caribbeanfrom Falmouth in buses to shore excursion destinations sold by the cruise line.      

Jamaica spent a small fortune for the port, well over $150,000,000. Royal Caribbean promised that it would pursue plans of developing 125,000 sq. ft. of leasable building space, including ground floor retail, restaurant space, a boutique hotel, residential units, and a shopping center for the local community, all linked to the original town by tram-cars, to be built by the cruise line in collaboration with the Port Authority of Jamaica.  

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, Royal Caribbean reportedly guaranteed $8 million in annual fees to the PAJ, based on a formula of bringing a minimum of 667,000 passengers annually or paying the shortfall, for a ten year period. The cruise line also reportedly promised the PAJ, which owns the land on which the pier is built, an annual ground rent of approximately $3 million. There was also talk about hundreds of new jobs created in the port project, including "construction workers, drivers, shop workers, sales clerks, cooks, bartenders and wait staff, security guards, maintenance staff, information and walking tour guides, entertainers, artisans and taxi drivers."

The disclosure of the contracts and other documents between Royal Caribbean and the PAJ should shed light on the true nature and details of the arrangements between the Miami-based cruise line and the Jamaican port authority. However, the port authority refused to reveal the documents to the environmental trust. The environment trust appealed to an Access to Information Appeal Tribunal, which ruled in its favor. 

Royal Caribbean sought permission to appeal the ruling of the Access to Information Appeal Tribunal, which was granted on July 7, 2015 by the Supreme Court. Royal Caribbean then filed its appeal notice, with an Appeal Tribunal, on July 22, fifteen days later.

But the Appeal Tribunal questioned whether Royal Caribbean had filed its appeal outside of the court’s 14 day filing requirement and sought an order striking Royal Caribbean’s appeal. Royal Caribbean argued that the date the order was granted should not be counted in the 14-day period, but this argument was rejected. 

The ruling striking Royal Caribbean’s appeal was upheld by the Appellate Court which concluded that the cruise line’s appellate forms were filed one day late using a 14 day period beginning on the date of the order requiring the documents to be disclosed.

Royal Caribbean can apply to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

As maters now stand, the Jamaica Environment Trust expects to finally obtain a copy of the lease agreement and the pier usage agreement from the Port Authority.

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Carnival LibertyThere are reports that the Carnival Liberty cruise ship sustained an engine room fire today.

The fire took place when the cruise ship was docked in St. Thomas USVI.  Cruise passengers were reportedly evacuated ashore, some wearing life vests.

John Heald, the popular blogging cruise director for Carnival, posted this statement in his Facebook page:

"Earlier today, while the Carnival Liberty was docked in St. Thomas, there was a fire in the ship’s engine room. There were no reported injuries to guests or crew. All guests are ashore in St. Thomas. Crews are working to confirm the fire has been completely extinguished." 

Please leave a comment if you have information, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Think cruise ship fires are rare?  Think again. Read:

Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires – Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

What cruise lines don’t want you to know.

Update September 8, 2015 @ 5:00 P.M

CARNIVAL LIBERTY STATEMENT September 8, 2015 – 5pm EDT The Carnival Liberty continues to remain in St. Thomas following an engine fire that occurred yesterday while the ship was docked there during a scheduled port of call visit. The ship’s command is presently awaiting permission from authorities to sail. Once the vessel departs, it is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Juan. Guests will have the option of remaining on board through the rest of the week and exploring San Juan or disembarking and traveling home. If clearance to depart St. Thomas is not received by later this evening, the company will move forward with arrangements to fly all guests home from St. Thomas. All guests are being provided with a full refund of their cruise as well as a 50 percent discount on a future cruise. This is in addition to a $150 per person credit that has already been applied to guests’ shipboard accounts. There were no injuries to guests or crew as a result of the fire which was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system. All hotel services including air conditioning, elevators, toilets, galleys, etc. are fully functional and the ship’s normal array of activities, entertainment, dining options and programming are being offered. We apologize to our guests for this unexpected disruption to their vacation and the inconvenience they are experiencing. Carnival Liberty departed San Juan on Sunday for a seven-day Caribbean cruise with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board.

Photo Credit: Chargarther licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons