The Oceania-operated Insignia failed its last sanitation inspection conducted by United States Public Health (“USPH”) inspectors on December 17, 2018, according to a crew member who wishes to stay anonymous.

The USPH reportedly gave the cruise ship a failing score of only 80, after the sanitation agency inspected the ship in Miami over a month ago. The crew member stated that the Insignia:

” . . .  failed USPH on December 17 in Miami with only 80 points which is a failure on the ship sanitation, food preparation and poor galley cleansing.  All crew, staff and officers was strictly told not to inform anyone since this could damage the company 5 star image.”

Today. the CDC published the report indicating that the Insignia in fact received a failing score of 80. You can read the report here. The report indicates that numerous food-contact surface areas on the ship were heavily soiled and  dusty and dirty; refrigerator units were not built to food equipment standards; and there were flies and other pests found in food service areas.  Potentially hazardous food items were stored and prepared at improper temperatures. Potable water bunkering was not properly tested for pH or halogen and the testing equipment was out of order.

Oceania has still not issues a corrective action report indicating that it has corrected the sanitation deficiencies.

Before this failed sanitation inspection, the Insignia was last inspected by the USPH in August of 2018 when it received a passing score of 98.

The USPH conducts sanitary inspection twice a year on cruise ships which call on U.S. ports. The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is intended to monitor the cruise ship industry to “prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.” A sanitation inspector can deduct points for dirty conditions in the galley or when food handlers work while ill, among other issues. An inspection score of 100 is considered perfect (although the inspector can still find some shortcomings); 85 or lower is considered a failing score.

Oceania markets the Insignia as a luxury cruise ship, with a capacity of 684 passengers (lower berths) or 824 passengers (all berths), with a crew of around 400.

The last cruise ship operated by Oceania to fail a USPH inspection was the Regatta in April of 2017 when it received a score of 84. In an article by TheStreet titled the 14 Worst Cruise Ships on the CDC’s Sanitary Inspection List, the Regatta was selected as one of the worst cruise ships from a sanitation perspective for lying to an inspector about a filthy espresso machine labeled “spare parts only;” the CDC report detailed “all of the very obvious evidence that this machine was in current use, starting with the wet grounds in the tray and ending with a small fly was in this area.”

The last luxury cruise ship to fail a USPH inspection was Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind cruise ship in March of 2018. Among numerous other violations, USPH inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit. The Silver Wind received a score of 79.

Five and one-half years ago, Silversea Cruises was also caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. In July of 2013, CNN aired a special program about the “hide and seek” games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by USPH inspectors. We covered the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors. You can watch a video about the cover-up aired by CNN here. The USPH issued a score of only 82 after that inspection

In 2015, two years after the disastrous 2013 inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82.

The Insignia‘s current score is lower than all of the failing scores received by the Silver Shadow and just a point higher than the Silver Wind‘s disastrous score earlier last year.

The Insignia received a score of 100 in July of 2017 and consistently received passing scores in the range of 88-98 with most scores in the 90’s for the past several years.  But the dirty galley conditions and failing sanitation score may result in some type of retaliation against those responsible for the supervision of the ship’s food and beverage department.

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Photo credit: By Ivan T. -CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Regatta OceaniaCruise veteran Linda Coffman reports on her blog that Oceania Cruises’ M/S Regatta experienced a power loss this morning while cruising near Hawaii. According to Ms. Coffman, the power was restored and guest services have been restored.

"At approximately 2:00 a.m. local time in Honolulu, HI (7:00 a.m. local time in Miami, FL) Oceania Cruises’ M/S Regatta experienced a failure of its power generation plant. All guests and crew are safe and accounted for. The power plant has been restored and all guest services are fully functioning. The ship is currently making its way back to Honolulu to effect a technical assessment and the vessel’s current ETA alongside in Honolulu is 1 p.m. local time. At the time of the power loss, the vessel was approximately 20 miles off the coasts of the island of Oahu."

No other information has been disclosed.

There is no information available regarding the cause of the power loss.

Power losses of cruise ships at sea is a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines. 

Does anyone on the ship have additional information?

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

AIS Image: MarineTraffic

Regatta Hawaii

For the past two years, I have been interested in the use of Twitter as a method of educating the public about dangers on cruise ships.  Dangers that are real.  Dangers that the cruise lines don’t want the public to read about.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter is well aware that I tweet daily on issues that the cruise lines don’t discuss – sexual assaults of women and children, mistreatment of crewmembers, and the disappearances of people on the high seas. 

Yes, I know that I am annoying.  There are lots of cruise fans and travel agents on Twitter who use the #cruise hash-mark to market the joy of cruising, and I spoil the fun.  50% of the people who Oceania Cruises - TwitterI interact with on a routine basis disagree with me 100% of the time it seems.  But I know that my message is getting out there.  I would like to think that if one parent realizes that its not safe to leave your kids unsupervised on a cruise ship, then my last 5,500 tweets have been a worthwhile exercise.   

I am particularly fascinated by the way that cruise lines use Twitter and other social media.  Are they engaging in discussions with the public where they address unpleasant subjects with candor and in the process develop a reputation of transparency?  Or, are they just using Twitter and Facebook to create fan pages or other cult clubs?  Do they run and hide when they read tweets critical of their business practices? 

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about Oceania Cruises trying to convince a Judge in Miami to impose a limit of liability of only $65,000 in a case where it is alleged that an Oceania Cruises crewmember raped a 13 year old child on the Regatta cruise ship.  Stories like this are important.  Most parents don’t understand the significant number of sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships.  Few parents could possibly imagine that if a crewmember raped their little girl, the cruise line would try and make certain that the child didn’t receive fair and just compensation for her physical and emotional injuries.

I tweeted a few references to my blog article about Oceania Cruise’s disturbing behavior.  I always invite a cruise line’s response.  I even invite disagreeing cruise lines and travel agents an Oceania Cruisess - Twitteropportunity to write a guest blog – unedited – to tell the other side of the story.            

Oceania Cruises, which has been following me on Twitter for over a year, had no interest in discussing the story.   Instead, it "un-followed" me. 

"Unfollowing" critics seems like a poor way to manage a business’ online reputation.  Instead of explaining its conduct or at least expressing concern for the girl’s well being, the cruise line just turned and ran.   

Twitter is a proving ground of truth and transparency.  Twitter is not a place where slick unprincipled marketers can withstand scrutiny.  It is not a place where cowardly cruise lines like Oceania can survive.   

On June 10th, a senior Federal District Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by a Miami-based cruise line to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a minor raped on a cruise ship.    

The case arose out of a shipboard rape of a girl alleged against Oceania Cruises.  According to the lawsuit papers, an Oceania Cruises crewmember sexually assaulted and raped a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard the Regatta cruise ship in October 2009.  

Oceania Cruises filed a motion seeking to assert, as an affirmative defense, the terms and Oceania Cruises - Regatta Cruise Ship - Sexual Assault - Rapeconditions of the "Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea."  This is an international treaty which applies when a cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.  It is commonly referred to as the "Athens Convention."  The Athens Convention limits a cruise lines liability for injuries and deaths to 46,666 Special Drawing Right (SDR’s) which is an international currency which has a conversion rate today of around U.S. $65,000.

Most cruise passengers are unaware that if they or a loved one are seriously injured or killed, the cruise lines will try to enforce the Athens Convention damage limitation which is incorporated in all cruise tickets.

However, the Athens Convention does not apply when the cruise line or crewmembers act intentionally or recklessly.   The Act states that the cruise line can’t benefit from the limitation ". . . if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission of the carrier done with the intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damages would probably result."

Addressing this plain language, Senior Judge James Lawrence King ruled that the Athens Convention does not apply for "intentional torts."  Because the minor’s claims for sexual assault and rape (as well as false imprisonment) are "intentional torts," the limits of liability contained in the Athens Convention do not apply. 

The attorney for the child is Jason Margulies.  The defense lawyer for Oceania Cruises is William Clair of Hill Betts & Nash.

This case should be an eye opener for most cruisers.  Yes, there are many cruises where crewmembers rape children.  Take a moment and read:

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Should Travel Agents Be Liable For Falsely Representing That Cruises Are Safe For Kids?

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruise: No. 1 – Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

Cruise lines like Oceania Cruises will do everything they can to avoid paying reasonable compensation when rapes occur, even when their ship employees rape the children of their guests. 

 

Photo credit:  CruiseLineFans.com