A lack of functional air conditioning on much of the Anthem of the Seas for the past week has left many guests feeling that they did not receive the cruise vacation which they paid for and which Royal Caribbean promised to them.

A couple of cruise passengers contacted our office yesterday to state that the air conditioning in their cabins, as well as to others parts of the cruise ship, were not cooling adequately.  Instead of blowing at a desired temperature in the high 60’s or in the 70’s, the air conditioning was leaving their cabins hot, with temperatures ranging from the low to mid-80’s with some cabins as hot as 89 degrees.  The heat has interrupted the guests’ sleep and made their cruises unpleasant.

It seems that the problem with the air conditioning began on or around Monday the 13th although there are comments posted on the Anthem of the Seas Facebook page dated earlier. Many guests with balconies opened their balcony doors but did not get much relief as the ship sailed in the Caribbean.

The ship has been slow to advise the guests the nature of the problem (“it will be fixed shortly” type of response). And there have been sporadic updates regarding how the engineering department will try to solve the widespread problem. Not all decks seem to be affected with many complaints focusing on the cabins on decks 10 and 11 as well as public areas on the ship.

Royal Caribbean recently offered the guests an on board credit (OBC) of $200 for interior cabins and cabins without a balcony, $300 for cabins with balconies, and $400 for suites. The credits are for the cabin, not the number of guests in the cabin.

This offer seems to have made matters worse. Guests seem to consider the OBC as a pittance, considering that they paid several thousands of dollars for the cruise and particularly compared to the full refund offered to all of the passengers on the Oasis of the Seas where around 600 guests became sick during a gastrointestinal illness outbreak last week.

A few guests have posted comments on Twitter:

The Anthem is now heading back to New Jersey (after a medical emergency detoured the ship to Bermuda) where it will dock shortly. The cooler weather in the northeast has apparently made the ship more pleasant for the passengers for the past day. But there are many passengers who are still understandably hot with the way that the matter was mishandled by Royal Caribbean. After the success in handling the public relations fallout following the debacle of the recent GI outbreak on the Oasis, it seems that the cruise-line decision makers and bean counters back in Miami have made an unforced PR blunder.

It also remains to be seen how Royal Caribbean intends to fix the air conditioning problem once the Anthem is back in port in Cape Liberty this morning when the cruise ship will take on another round of passengers looking forward to a relaxing cruise.

The Anthem left New Jersey on January 6th, sailed to San Juan, Puerto Rico arriving on January 9th,  Philipsburg, St. Maarten on January 10th, St Johns, Antigua on January 11th, Castries, St Lucia on January 12th, Bridgetown, Barbados on January 13th, Basseterre, St. Kitts on January 14th and is scheduled to arrive back in New Jersey shortly.

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January 18, 2018 p.m. update: Comment from cruise passenger osted on Twitter:

 

A cruise passenger has reportedly died after falling from the Harmony of the Seas, according to a passenger who contacted us.

This evening we received an email which stated that between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, there was a suicide/accident on Harmony of the Seas; someone fell/jumped from his balcony and died.

Later this evening, a guest on the cruise ship tweeted the following:

The passenger is apparently a 16 year old teenager (although there is also accounts that the passenger was in his 50’s who fell from an upper deck ), according to a guest on the ship. One passenger stated on Twitter that the guest died after hitting the “pavement.”  Another passenger posted on Twitter that the person struck the “concrete dock.”

The Harmony of the Seas is currently on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. The cruise ship left Fort Lauderdale on January 6th and has sailed to Philipsburg, St. Maarten and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was scheduled to stop in Labadee, today from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. this evening. It is scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, January 13th.

A crew member, Arron Hough, went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas two and one-half weeks ago.

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January 15, 2019 Update: Boy, 16, falls to his death while trying to climb into room from balcony of Royal Caribbean ship via the Sun Sentinel.

 

More than 100 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean have become sick with a gastrointestinal illness, according to at least one guest who has contacted this blog.

The outbreak reportedly occurred on the Oasis of The Seas which called on the port of Falmouth, Jamaica yesterday. The guest states that passengers were not let off of the ship. Royal Caribbean is reportedly offering an on-board credit for missing the port in Jamaica.

The Oasis of the Seas left Port Canaveral, Florida on January 6th and sailed to the cruise line’s private port in Labadee, Haiti on January 8th. The cruise ship was scheduled to call on Falmouth yesterday and is scheduled to arrive in Cozumel, Mexico tomorrow. It is then scheduled to return back to Port Canaveral on January 13th.

Officials with Royal Caribbean reported that there 167 cases of a stomach virus on board the ship.

WESH Channel 2 reports that Royal Caribbean reported 167 cases of gastrointestinal illness to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which represent 2 percent of the 8,454 guests and crew on board. The cruise line told the news stations that:

“We are bringing additional medical staff on board and we’re engaging in intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues,” a statement from Royal Caribbean said.

The CDC states that cruise ships are required to log and report the number of passengers and crew who indicate that they have symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. The  report is required when 2% or more of the passengers or crew have gastrointestinal illness.  The CDC is required publish data on the Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships portal maintained by the agency where 3% or more of passengers or crew report symptoms of gastrointestinal illness to the ship’s medical staff.

The last gastrointestinal outbreak on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to have been reported on the CDC portal occurred in December of 2017 when 310 of 4,160 of guests and 22 of 1,398 crew members became ill with norovirus on the Independence of the Seas.

January 10, 2019 a.m. update:  The Oasis of the Seas reportedly is skipping the port of Cozumel and will return to Port Canaveral. The number of those affected by the gastrointestinal outbreak now exceeds 250. Royal Caribbean is also refunding the cruise fares to the passengers.

January 11, 2019 update: The CDC states that over 400 people were sickened by the gastrointestinal outbreak; 385 of 6,285 (6.12%) of passengers and 17 of 2,169 (0.78%) of crew members. The CDC has not indicated whether the GI outbreak was caused by norovirus.

January 12, 2019 update:  “The number of people hit with a gastrointestinal illness on a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship has swelled to nearly 500 (475), a company spokeswoman said Friday,” according to NBC News.

“Don’t call us if you get sick on a cruise.’ — Miami-based cruise-industry lawyer Jim Walker,” according to Marketwatch.

The CDC reports that the total number of sick passengers with GI are 561 passengers and 31 crew members.

Full refund by Royal Caribbean: The cruise line earns PR points by issuing a full refund to all passengers.

Photo credit: Baldwin040 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A crew member went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas yesterday morning, according to a Royal Caribbean ship employee who wishes to remain confidential.

The crew member is reportedly an entertainer from the U.K. who was a member of the shipboard musical production of Grease on the Harmony of the Seas.

The Harmony of the Seas left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 23rd and was sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten where it arrived this morning and will remain until 5 p.m. today.

The crew member apparently went overboard early Christmas morning some where north of Puerto Rico before the cruise ship reached St. Maarten.

The U.S. Coast Guard identified the missing crew member as “Arron Hough, 20, of the United Kingdom.”

The last Royal Caribbean crew member who went overboard disappeared from the Adventure of the Seas. He was subsequently identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As in the case of Mr. Ackroyd, Mr. Hough apparently disappeared without anyone noticing. Due to the absence of a auto man overboard system, which would instantly send a signal to the bridge and then track the overboard person in the water even at night, there was apparently no timely search for the crew member.

Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean claims that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain was quoted in an article in Quartz by Rosie Spinks titled People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it? He stated that MOB technology “is not yet at a viable stage,” despite modern systems like this and this.

It never ceases to amaze me that a cruise line that collects over 8,000,000,000 (billion $$) dollars a year tax-free, and builds billion dollar Genesis class cruise ships like the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,  Symphony of the Seas and the Harmony of the Seas, refuses to invest in such life-saving technology.

We have written before about Royal Caribbean’s dismal attitude about MOB systems and procedures relative to crew members – Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 327 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 25 people have gone overboard this year alone – an average of more than 2 a month.

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December 26, 2018 PM update: According to the Miami Herald, the Coast Guard was not notified until 1:45 pm today, even though the crew member apparently went overboard around 4 am.

Royal Caribbean’s PR department states that:

“We are saddened to report that after a review of the ship’s closed-circuit camera footage, he was observed entering an area on Deck 5 at around 4am and was not seen again. Local authorities were notified and a ship-wide search for the crew member was conducted.”

This means that the Harmony of the Seas did not conduct a search at sea at all.

Photo credit: Top – Royal Caribbean promotional video of the Harmony of the Seas; bottom – Aaron Luke Hough Twitter

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Wednesday night as the ship was returning to New York from a Caribbean cruise.

The Coast Guard launched a MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina to medevac a 79-year-old man suffering from kidney failure, according to a statement by the Coast Guard.

The Anthem of the Seas was more than 400 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard.

You can watch the video of the medevac here.

The Anthem had sailed from New York City, New York, leaving for December 10th to San Juan, Puerto Rico; St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; St Johns, Antigua and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It returned to New York City this morning.

The Coast Guard medevaced a 83 year-old woman, who was experiencing renal failure, from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 160 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, North Carolina in May of 2018. She was flown to North Carolina for emergency medical treatment. Before that, the Coast Guard medevaced a 71-year-old man from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 50 miles east of Ocean City, New Jersey, in April of this year.

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

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard Fain acquired 18,900 shares of Royal Caribbean (“RCL”) stock for $1,990,000 or a weighted average price of around $105.60 a share, according to Seatrade Cruise News.

Mr. Fain bought the RCL shares on Thursday. The stock is reportedly for a trust primarily for the benefit of certain Fain family members.

After the transaction, Mr. Fain owns 842,537 shares directly and 235,106 shares indirectly for a total of 1,077,643 shares.

RCL closed at $105.07 on the day of the trade.

At close of business on Friday, RCL stock was trading at $107.09, raising the value of Mr. Fain’s Royal Caribbean stock to $126,181,218.87.

Royal Caribbean Chairman Mr. Fain remains the highest paid executive in the cruise industry.

Mr. Fain is the highest paid cruise executive for the second year in a row. Mr. Fain was paid $13,343,413 last year (2017), an increase of nearly three million dollars, from $10,405,684 in 2016.

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

Interested in this issue? Consider reading:

Fearless Fain, Royal Caribbean’s CEO.

Cruise Executive Richard Fain Hits the Jackpot Again.

Photo image: Consumerist

A strike in San Juan today impacted cruise passengers on the Celebrity Summit and Jewel of the Seas. Departing passengers have been unable to retrieve their luggage and take taxis to the airport and arriving passengers have been delayed or unable to travel to the port due to the strikes.

Social media (Twitter and Facebook) has been abuzz with postings from cruise guests and their family members of travelers contacting the cruise line and air lines. As one travel agent commented, this apparently was not the first time that port operations were disrupted by a strike.

Several cruise passengers contacted us this afternoon seeking information about the strike.

The current strike involves an organized protest against governmental cuts of employee benefits in Puerto Rico. Strikes in the U.S. nowadays are relatively rare. Most strikes which affect cruise passengers occur in Europe (read Carnival Breeze to Cross Picket Line in Venice). Strikes by cruise line employees are not permitted by the cruise lines (read Carnival Fires 150 Crew Members from India for Protesting Low Cruise Ship Wages).

A number of people on Twitter were concerned about their parents’ ability to deal with the lack of services, whereas at least one cruiser expressed her understandable frustrations about getting home to man’s best friend.

Complicating matters as several thousand guests tried to handle their own baggage was that it began to rain earlier this morning.

In addition to the Celebrity Summit and the Jewel of the Seas, AIS programs show the Star Pride in port in San Juan. However, we have not received any comments from passengers on the Star Pride yet.

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Photo and video credit: Twitter; photo top – Emily Burns @ArizonaHorseGal.

The crew member from the Adventure of the Seas who recently disappeared from the cruise ship as it headed to Cozumel has been identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As we reported last week, this Royal Caribbean crew member did not appear at his work station on the morning of November 22, 2018. He was last recorded on the Adventure of the Seas via closed-circuit television (on deck 4 around 4:00 a.m.) but was not accounted for when the cruise ship arrived at the Mexican port. Royal Caribbean did not conduct a search for the crew member in the water. His disappearance is similar to other Royal Caribbean crew members who have gone overboard early in the morning.

We wrote about a similar situation about a year ago involving a Royal Caribbean crew member, among many others, where neither Royal Caribbean nor the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search for the missing ship employee.  Royal Caribbean, despite its enormous wealth and record profits, has not implemented available man overboard technology on its ships. Like other cruise lines, this company says that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this.

Nottinghamshire Live indicates that Mr. Ackroyd was a member of the sports staff on the Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship. The newspaper describes him as a “big Nottingham Forest fan (U.K. soccer club) and a keen sports player. He had great sense of humour and would light up a room when he walked in. He was kind-hearted and loved by everyone.”

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Photo credit: Top – Facebook; bottom – Nottinghamshire Live.

A number of cruise passengers on the Adventure of the Seas inform Cruise Law News that the captain announced to the cruise ship yesterday that a crew member disappeared from the ship.

The Adventure of the Seas was in Cozumel when the captain made an announcement that an unidentified crew member could not be accounted for and was missing from the cruise ship.  The crew member did not appear at his work station and the remainder of the crew was unable to locate him.

The fact that a crew member could “disappear” without a trace from the cruise ship indicates that Royal Caribbean has still not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system on this ship. Auto-MOB systems like this or this can detect a person going over the rails and send a signal to the bridge so that the ship can immediately search and try to rescue the person. Such systems consist of state-of-the-art motion detection sensors, thermal imaging and radar technology.

As matters now stand, when a crew member (or passenger) goes over the railing, unless an eye-witness observes the person going overboard and promptly reports it to the bridge, the ship will sail on, usually at night, without anyone knowing that a person is missing from the ship. It is not until some time after the crew member fails to show up to work that the ship will make any effort to search for the person.

Usually, the crew will search on the ship for the missing crew member and the staff captain or security chief will eventually look through any CCTV images to search for any clues whether the crew member jumped overboard.  (The vast majority of crew members who disappear at sea do so intentionally; whereas, most passengers go overboard due to gross over-intoxication).

This leads to extraordinary delays in the ship’s search and rescue efforts.  For example, in Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas, we explained that when a crew member jumped overboard early in the morning (around 5:15 a.m.), the absence of an auto-MOB caused a series of unreasonable delays in searching for the employee.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

The flag state (usually the Bahamas) usually does not even investigate when Royal Caribbean reports that a crew member has gone overboard.

The passengers who informed us that a crew member is missing from the ship in this latest case mentioned that the captain announced that a “care team” would apparently be arriving on the ship, although it is less than clear whether this was for the crew’s welfare or the guests’ benefit.

Royal Caribbean’s failure to install the proven life-saving auto-MOB technology reflects an callous indifference toward hard working crew members.

We suggest reading:

Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

Misery Machines and Crew Member Suicides.

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November 24, 2018 a.m. update:

Crew members are identifying the crew members as a 26 year old male entertainment staff member from the United Kingdom.

A crew member who worked with him a few months ago on Allure of the Seas stated that his manager reported that he was exhibiting signs of depression to shipboard HR. He went to the ship doctor on one occasion, a teleconference was reportedly arranged for him with a counselor, and he was required to continue his contract.

One crew member who does wish to be identified stated “Royal Caribbean does not care one bit for the safety or welfare of the crew . . . about 24 hours of the crew member going missing, the company had already contacted another employee to replace him (someone who is a close friend of the missing person)! Apparently there is no CCTV footage of him going overboard but instead of focusing on investigating what happened and supporting his family, friends and team mates, their priority is to find a replacement.”

November 24, 2018 p.m. update: Below is a YouTube video by Don’s Family Vacations which discusses the need of automatic man overboard technology. He recommends to cruise passengers that they fill out comment cards recommending that cruise lines implement the technology, particularly given the billions of dollars that the industry is spending on new cruise ships and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the refurbishment of ships.

 

November 24, 2018 p.m. update”Photo credit: Top – Brian Burnell – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Middle and bottom – Images from Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas via Bahamian Maritime Authority.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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