The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued air quality violations to eight cruise ships and water quality violations to nine cruise ships last week, according to the Juneau Empire.

In an article by Kevin Gullufsen, the newspaper reported that four Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships, two Princess Cruises ships, and one cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and one ship operated by Royal Caribbean violated Alaska’s air quality standards throughout the cruise season’s summer months (June-August).

Alaska’s DEC cited HAL’s Eurodam, Westerdam, Amsterdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam; Princess’ Emerald Princess and Golden Princess; NCL’s Norwegian Jewel; and Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas (which was cited twice).

Last year, the DEC determined that NCL’s Norwegian Jewel and HAL’s Amsterdam violated Alaska’s air standards.

The violations reportedly could result in fines as high as $46,192 per cruise ship.

The manager of Alaska’s cruise ship emissions monitoring program told the Juneau Empire that: “opacity is an indicator for overall air quality. So there are things that could be in the emissions. Things like nitrogen oxides or particulates. Things that can be breathed in and can potentially cause some health effects.”

Just last week in another article by Kevin Gullufsen, the Juneau Empire reported that “exhaust emissions poured from the Norwegian Pearl’s exhaust stack” as the NCL cruise ship was docking in Alaksa. The DEC has not yet announced whether the Norwegian Pearl violated Alaska’s air quality standards.

A few days later, a Canadian resident filmed the same NCL cruise ship spewing emissions in Victoria and posted the film on Twitter, which you can see below.

The DEC also found that nine cruise ships violated Alaska’s water quality standards this summer, according to the Juneau Empire.

Five Princess cruise ships violated water quality standards, including the Emerald Princess, Island Princess, Golden Princess, Ruby Princess and Star Princess.  The Star Princess and the Emerald Princess violated the water standards twice.

The DEC also issued wastewater discharge violations to HAL’s Eurodam, Noordam, and Voledam, as well as Seabourn Cruise Line’s Sojourn.

A month ago, we reported that Princess Cruises’ Star Princess recently discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan. The discharge was originally reported by KRBD Community Radio. KRBD reported the Star Princess’ discharge and a similar discharge from the Golden Princess while the ship was in Ketchikan.

As shown by photographs (above and on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan), the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship were berthed. The DEC has not yet announced that these particular discharges violated Alaska’s water standards.

Princess denied the reports, claiming that “our experts believe what was viewed and photographed is most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.”

Alaska cited two cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises for violating both air and water standards – the Emerald Princess and Golden Princess.

The air violations by HAL, Princess and Royal Caribbean and the water violations by HAL and Princess all involved pollution by cruise lines which have pleaded guilty to environmental violations and lying to the U.S Coast Guard. Princess was the latest cruise line to have pleaded guilty to such crimes and lying to federal agencies, resulting in a fine of $40,000,000.  Federal prosecutors found that the Star Princess and the Golden Princess were in the middle of Princess’ widespread, ongoing schemes to pollute and lie about it.

Princess appears to be in direct violation of the guilty plea agreement (where it promised not to commit further violations of international, federal, state, or local environmental laws) which it entered into with the federal government in December of 2016. Whether the federal government does anything about Princess’ continuing pattern of pollution is another matter.

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September 13, 2018 Update: Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation stated today that the DEC issued wastewater citations to HAL for “unauthorized discharge of untreated graywater” from the Noordam. It cited Princess Cruises for “unauthorized discharge of treated graywater” from the Star  Princess.  The DEC’s notices of violations issued for water standards were all related to unauthorized untreated graywater or treated mixed graywater and sewage, in violations of Alaska’s wastewater discharge permit. These are not for scrubber washwater discharges.

Photo credits: Top – Norwegian Pearl in Juneau / Photo credit Tim Olson / KTOO Public Radio; middle – city of Ketchikan via KRBD Community Radio.

Local residents in Juneau recently lodged numerous complaints about exhaust emissions which belched into the air from the Norwegian Pearl to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in Alaska, according to a newspaper in Juneau.

The Juneau Empire reported that on Tuesday “exhaust emissions poured from the Norwegian Pearl’s exhaust stack” as the NCL cruise ship Pearl began to dock at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, maneuvering into position after the Norwegian Bliss left the dock around this time.

The newspaper stated that it took a 45-minute video of the pollution, which was compressed into a video time lapse. The video (shown below) “shows the Pearl emitting nearly-opaque exhaust for much of the video.”

The newspaper explains that based on EPA guidelines, “air quality violations are based on percentage of opacity, where 0 percent means emissions are see through, while 100 percent opacity means one can’t see through it.” Ships are allowed to exceed 20 percent opacity for three minutes an hour while at the dock. When casting off, anchoring and docking, ship exhausts are only allowed to exceed 40 percent opacity for nine minutes out of an hour.”

The Juneau Empire reports that Ed White, who runs the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance program, “couldn’t comment on whether DEC was in the process of issuing a fine to the Norwegian Pearl as he’s not allowed to comment on ongoing compliance issues.”

Early last month, Princess Cruises’ Star Princess cruise ship discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers in the port of Ketchikan, according to the city of Ketchikan.

Scrubber systems are increasingly being used on cruise ships in order to reduce sulfur particles and engine exhaust particulates.  Petroleum-based, non-combustible particulate matter accumulates as toxic sludge during the water-scrubbing process, and must eventually be removed from the ships and should be disposed of properly in certified facilities ashore. Many cruise ships often discharge the sludge into the ocean, while they are underway or even at port, rather than properly disposing of the sludge in facilities ashore.

Photographs shown on our Facebook page, courtesy of the city of Ketchikan, show that the sludge polluted the waters of Ketchikan and fouled the port facilities where the Princess cruise ship was berthed.  Princess responded to new reports of the discharge by making the farcical claim that the sludge was “most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.”

There has been a long history of cruise ships violating the air and water standards of Alaska, which we have written about ever since we started this blog nine years ago. See our article three years ago – Alaska Alleges Cruise Lines Violated Air Emission Laws (photo below).

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September 9, 2018 Update: The Pearl was observed continuing to spew emissions at port in Victoria.

Photo Credit:  Top – Norwegian Pearl– Michael Penn / Juneau Empire; Bottom – Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas cruise ship – AlaskanLibrarian’s Flickr photostream. Video Credit – Juneau Empire.

Royal Caribbean is reportedly outsourcing the majority of the employees in its call center in Springfield, Oregon (near Eugene) to Jamaica and Guatemala. Over 700 positions in the Springfield office will apparently be gone by the end of 2019. Employees say that they were forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) prohibiting them from talking about the company’s decision. As one employee who wishes to remain anonymous recently told me, “it’s pretty sad there right now.”

Royal Caribbean has operated a call center in the town of Springfield, Oregon since 2006 in a customized office which is designed to look like a cruise ship (see article below). As of 2014, Royal Caribbean employed over 700 people and had plans to hire over 200 others there.

Several current employees in Springfield contacted me to discuss the company’s plans. They state that Royal Caribbean plans to outsource 85-90% of its jobs in Springfield to Guatemala and Jamaica. This leaves around 700 U.S. employees without jobs, and the cruise line is not offering severance pay or assistance to most of the employees. All of the employees wish to remain anonymous out of fear that the company will retaliate against them.

The only teams which, reportedly, are being offered to remain employed are “sales” and “outbound sales.” However,  long term sales agents are not being provided with leads anymore and the cruise line is already outsourcing calls to agents in Guatemala. 

One employee told me that “when guests have a issue with their booking and want to speak with a supervisor (escalating to the resolutions department), they will now speak to someone overseas. It seems like for now Royal Caribbean wants their sales agents in the USA to hook the customer  and introduce them to the product, but when they call back with an issue they will be routed overseas.” She added “good luck getting a refund . . . ” 

Several years ago, Travel Weekly reported that Royal Caribbean’s UK and Ireland managing director reassured agents about the planned outsourcing of the cruise line’s UK call center to Guatemala. He told Travel Weekly at the time that Royal Caribbean was busy training the new Guatemalan call center staff and he would soon visit the Central American center.

Royal Caribbean is obviously not the first cruise line to outsource services from the U.S. Two year ago, Carnival eliminated 200 positions from its IT departments across its brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises. Carnival received wide spread criticism when it was revealed that Carnival employees were required to train the “foreign” replacements.

Over the years, there have been several incidents involving mass lay-offs from Royal Caribbean, dating back many years ago with 500 employees losing their jobs, with the last one in 2013 involving around 100 people let go.

As I mentioned before, this appears to be an inevitable part of the “globalization” of the cruise industry. Money saved by the cruise executives in Miami, yes, but at the expense of terminating loyal U.S employees. Not to mention running the risk of demoralizing the remaining staff while offering substandard services.

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August 30, 2018 Update:

According to KVAL TV in Eugene, “some of the Springfield employees were used to train workers in Jamaica in April ‘only to realize now that they trained their own replacements.’ The sources have asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions at work.”

KVAL TV article “Absolutely Heartbroken;” Employee at Royal Caribbean in Springfield Speaks Out.

Royal Caribbean responds by saying that there are allegedly no layoffs currently planned but plans to “reassign some of the jobs to other areas.” The employees in Springfield will be “reduced through attrition.” A KVAL reporter reported that the cruise line would not provide a time table for the changes and “declined to say where those jobs would be located, and said officials have not decided how many jobs would be moved.”

Interested in this issue? Please read:

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean’s U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

Loyal to Royal” Royal Caribbean Axes 100 Jobs in Corporate Headquarters

Photo credit: Jim Walker

Three tears ago today,  the Freedom of the Seas caught on fire.

When we learned that the Freedom was on fire while heading to port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we called a former client who lives near the port (in Montego Bay) and asked him to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, here on our blog, which was viewed by over a million people on Facebook within two days. We also posted other images of the fire and the passengers mustering to prepare to abandon the fire-stricken ship.

So when Royal Caribbean tried to spin the story, with a misleading statement by its CEO that the fire was allegedly “small and quickly extinguished,” the public could make their own assessment regarding the size and ferocity of the fire. All of the major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) carried the video on their news programs and the international media included the video on their multi-media presentations.

The public was left with the impression that the cruise line was either completely out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or that it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean “Small Fire” Hoax.

One crew member was seriously burned by the fire although no passengers were injured. The fire on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship occurred at a time when Carnival cruise ships, it seemed, were igniting on an all too frequent basis.

Passengers sent us copies of videos which they took of the large fire.

Neither the flag state nor the classification society nor the vessel’s underwriters not the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a survey of the damage before the ship continued its cruise and no one began to conduct an investigation into the root cause of the fire.  As we wrote soon after the fire, Royal Caribbean had hired a engineering group in install a scrubber system which involved extensive welding operations while the ship was underway, rather than conduct such dangerous work during a dry dock.

Read: Fire on the Freedom: The Show Must Go On.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Raymond Bower.

 

After nearly nine years, Cruise Law News has a new look.

LexBlog, my blog design and support company in Seattle, re-designed my blog. You will note that the text you are reading is black lettering on a white background, in contrast to the old format (above) with a blue background which people have told me, over the years, was a bit hard on their eyes and difficult to read.

Man Overboard – a Continuing Problem

Early this morning I posted my first article, after two Royal Caribbean crew members went overboard after falling from a lifeboat near Victoria, Canada – Two Crew Members Overboard From Explorer of the Seas, Rescued

It is less than clear how the crew members went overboard, with a news account from a local radio program stating that they were working on the lifeboat, while commentators to my Cruise Law News page on Facebook explaining that the lifeboat apparently flipped over while it was being raised.

Of course, if the crew members fell while performing maintenance then that would be in violation of the cruise line’s safety protocols which require ship employees working “aloft or overboard” to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which sometimes this cruise ignores. On the other hand, if the crew members fell after the lifeboat flipped while being raised, this would be in violation of the international maritime organization (IMO) protocols which prohibit lifeboats from being raised with people aboard, which this cruise lines also often ignores.

Meanwhile, readers of our Facebook page are commenting that “you cannot just fall off of a cruise ship” or words to this effect. But, of course, you can fall overboard if you are a crew member required to work without being provided with a fall restraint harness or forced to sit in a lifeboat which is lifted with people aboard in violation of IMO regulations.

In any event, based on the little available information, fortunately there are no reported injuries due to the mishap.

New Look – New Functions

Returning to our blog’s new format, a new feature is “Report a Tip” which you can see above near the top header. We often receive information directly from crew members or guests from the cruise ships, when things go wrong on the high seas. Cruise lines do not like to release complete or accurate information when bad things happen at sea, like when a fire breaks out or when a person goes overboard.

The motto of this blog remains “Everything Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know.” This form should make it easier to communicate with us.

Since I started this blog in September of 2009, I have written over 3,000  articles.  Thank you to the many hundreds of crew members and cruise guests who have contacted us over the last decade. Most people who contact us wish to remain anonymous.  We of course will never reveal the names or contact information of those who contact us.

The new format includes a link to our Google Analytics information, which tracks where people around the word contact us and how many pages they read. So far today, over 19,000 people have read the article which I posted this morning here on Cruse Law News.

One issue with the new format concerns me, namely our new comment system seems a bit awkward. I am wondering whether it will still work efficiently when readers wish to communicate with us.

I’m interested in what our readers think about the new look and format? Please give us your thoughts!

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Interested in this topic?  Read:

Why do you read Cruise Law News?

Two crew members, reportedly working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, fell from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Victoria last evening, according to News 1130.

The two overboard ship workers were apparently rescued by another vessel, which has not been identified yet.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre stated that “the two were working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, which belongs to Royal Caribbean Cruises, when they ended up in the water.”

The rescue centre says it “doesn’t know whether they were crew members or passengers,” which seems strange because passengers obviously do not work on lifeboats.

There is no indication exactly how long the workers were in the water or exactly how they fell from the cruise ship.  Royal Caribbean has work-aloft and working overboard procedures which require ship employees to be equipped with harness to prevent them from falling. Typically the work on lifeboats is permitted only after the ship employees obtain work-aloft certificates requiring that certain safety protocols set forth in the Royal Caribbean safety management system (called SQM on Royal Caribbean ship) be followed. Department heads and the staff captain typically must be aware of, approve and supervise the work.

The two workers were reportedly assessed for injuries and then returned to the Explorer of the Seas.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: A guest aboard the Explorer of the Seas videotaped the accident. As you can see in the video below, several crew members are in a rescue craft which come alongside the cruise ship as it is underway.  It appears that there are lines (cables) to the rescue craft, which cause the craft to turn sideways, dumping two of the crew members in the water.

Update 2: The popular Crew Center site contains additional information and a video related to the incident.

Photo credit: MarineTraffic AIS of Explorer of the Seas. Video with permission by Leslie Ippolito via Twitter.

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 80-year-old passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship off of the coast of North Carolina.

The crew of the Adventure of the Seas requested the emergency medical evacuation of an 80-year-old female passenger who had suffered a stroke.

The Coast Guard dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from an its air station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina  After hoisting the woman from the cruise ship, the helicopter crew transported her to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for medical treatment.

The cruise ship was approximately 150 miles southeast of Wilmington at the time of the medevac.

Join our discussion on our Facebook page. 

Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City / Coast Guard District 5 PADET Baltimore via Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS)

Vision of the Seas Anchored Party Last year, Royal Caribbean Cruises agreed with the producers of a reality television show called “Shipmates” to use the cruise line’s Vision of the Seas in the filming of the program. Channel 4 TV in the UK used the Vision as the setting for what the producers describe as a “party-fueled luxury cruise ship” sailing in the Mediterranean Sea with a horde of thousands of 20 year-olds “seeking the ultimate party experience on the once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Promoting a theme of “sun, sea & sass,” the TV producers said that the partying shipmate contestants would compete in challenges where other passengers would vote the drunk participants as either winners or losers.

But last week it seems that Royal Caribbean got more than it bargained for.

Several newspapers in the UK report that a five-day cruise on the Vision, which started in Barcelona earlier this month and sailed to Cannes, Ibiza and Mallorca and returned to Barcelona, turned into a “drug fueled orgy” during the filming of the television show. Royal Caribbean charted its cruise ship to Anchored Cruises which promoted wild champagne-spray pool parties with DJ’s pumping electronic music to the young, partying festival-like crowd.

Passengers stated that the crowd was smoking weed, snorting cocaine, and drinking excessively to the point that people were passing out around the pool and in corridors in the ship and had to be Vision of the Seas Anchored Cruisetaken back to their cabins in wheelchairs.

A crew member reportedly told one of the UK publications “Staff were being abused. Guests walked around the ship half naked. They were drunk and clearly on drugs. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Passengers people were reporting snorting cocaine . . . as “partygoers vomited in the swimming pool and over the ship’s side.” Another passenger reportedly said the cruise was “carnage on a new level of wrongness” and observed “group sex all over the ‘lawless’ ship, adding drink and drugs were so rife: ‘I’m surprised no-one died.'”

You can see the debacle via tabloid publications like the Sun and the Daily Mail Online.

Royal Caribbean claims that it has a “zero tolerance policy for the use or possession of illegal drugs on our ships. Ship charters are held to the same strict standards. We operate with the health and safety of our guests and crew as our highest priority, and we cooperate fully with law enforcement when we are aware of violations.”

This is a typical gobbledygook statement and the usual behavior by Royal Caribbean who often looks the other way when large scale drug use is exposed during events such as deadly Atlantis rave parties which the cruise line routinely hosts. Royal Caribbean is also well known for chartering its ships for swinger sex cruises.

Ironically, Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that it is purchasing a majority interest in the high-brow, ultra-luxurious cruise brand Silversea Cruises. Can you imagine this cruise line operating theVision of the Seas Anchored Cruise Silver Wind or Silver Shadow?

You can see other photos of the out-of-control cruise party on our Facebook page.

Anchored Cruise is already advertising a similar event on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship planned for 2019.

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

Photo credits: Sun and Daily Mail.

Today, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it is acquiring a 66.7% stake in Silversea Cruises for $1,000,000,000 (billion) and assuming around $500,000,000 (million) in debt.

As a privately held cruise brand, Silversea operates nine ships with two newbuilds, Silver Moon and Silver Dawn, which are under construction for delivery in 2020 and 2021, with an option for a sister ship.

RCL states that it plans to finance the purchase through debt. Silversea’s executive chairman, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, will qualify for an estimated contingent payment of of 472,000 RCL shares, based on reaching certain 2019-2020 performance marks, which are currently worth a little over $50,000,000 based on the current price of RCL shares.

Seatrade Cruise explains that Silversea was the “brainchild of Antonio Lefebvre d’Ovidio, a noted Italian jurist and law professor who wanted to create a new class of spacious ships with highly Royal Caribbean - Silversea Cruise Dealpersonalized service. In 1988, he purchased the majority of Sitmar Cruises, merging it with P&O’s Princess Cruises a year later. In 1994, he launched Silversea Cruises with two purpose-built ships. His son Manfredi, who had been involved in the family’s businesses from an early age, managed ship operations. He took control of the company and became chairman in 2001.”

Silversea Cruises has tarnished its reputation in the last few years, having faced the embarrassment of crew members being ordered to hide carts of food and galley equipment in crew member quarters on the Silver Shadow in 2013. CNN aired a special report of the CDC flunking the Silver Shadow when inspectors caught Silversea in the act.  The Silver Shadow flunked another CDC inspection in 2015.

The Silver Wind also flunked a USPH sanitation inspection last month.

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Photo Credit; Royal Caribbean/Silversea via Travel Weekly,

A Miami-Dade County jury returned a verdict against Royal Caribbean Cruises of more than $20,000,000 on behalf of an officer who was injured on the Voyager of the Seas during an accident in 2008.

Royal Caribbean officer Lisa Spearman was seriously and permanently injured when a watertight door crushed her right hand when she came to the assistance of the cruise ship nurse. The ship nurse stumbled while attempting to walk past the door during an emergency test, according to the lawsuit which her attorneys filed.

Ms. Spearman alleged that following the accident, Royal Caribbean refused to re-hire her and then refused to pursue disability benefits on her behalf. She sued the cruise line for negligence under the Voyager of the SeasJones Act, unseaworthiness of the vessel under the General Maritime Law, failure to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care (also under U.S. General Maritime law), failure to pay wages under 46 U.S.C. 10313, retaliatory discharge and breach of contract.

The jury returned a verdict of $20,300,000 after a three week trial. 

Ms. Spearman was represented by Miami maritime lawyer Tonya Meister-Griffin, who was assisted by attorneys Deborah Gander and Susan Carlson of the Colson, Hicks Eidson law firm.  

Congratulations to Ms. Meister and the team of lawyers who represented Ms. Spearman.

Royal Caribbean was represented by David Horr of the firm Horr, Novak & Skipp.  

Currently, crew members are prohibited from filing lawsuits before a judge and a jury because cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have inserted one-sided arbitration provisions in the ship employees’ contracts. Absent a change in the law, Ms. Spearman, whose employment contract dates back to 2008 and did not contain an arbitration requirement, undoubtedly will be one of the last crew members who are able to try their case before a jury in the Miami-Dade courthouse.  

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Update: The Miami Herald covered the story in an article this afternoon (with photographs).  Newsweek also published CRUISE WORKER WINS $20M PAYOUT AFTER HAND CRUSHED BY DOOR ON ROYAL CARIBBEAN SHIP.  Stuff (New Zealand) New Zealand woman Lisa Spearman wins US$20.3m payout from cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean.

Photo credit: Spaceaero2 – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.