Carnival SpiritAn Australian cruise passenger, Mr. Sun, sued Carnival Australia after the cruise line falsely accused him of exposing himself to two young girls on the Carnival Spirit.

According to an Australian new station, the incident occurred during a cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia in December 2016.

Ship security personnel were notified that a man had "exposed and then touched himself" in front of young girls on the Carnival cruise ship. 

The security staff showed one of the girls, and the parents of the girl, photographs of Mr Sun. The girl apparently misidentified Mr. Sun as the culprit. The girl’s father then took matters into his own hands, accusing Mr. Sun of exposing himself to his daughter as he physically assaulted and battered Mr Sun in his own stateroom in front of Mr. Sun’s wife and child. 

The news report article states that when Mr. Sun called security for assistance, they instead escorted him to a room where they interrogated him for one-and-a-half hours and intimidated him from leaving.

The ship security finally showed Mr. Sun CCTV footage of the incident footage of the incident, which showed that the pedophile in the video was not heavily tattooed like him and exhibited other “obvious physical differences” from Mr. Sun.

Security eventually allowed Mr. Sun back to his room but denied him medical attention for the physical assault. 

Carnival was recently in the news following a series of brawls on its cruise ships leaving from Australian ports. Its security guards are shown in certain trending videos violently kicking passengers and trying to stop bystanders from videotaping the melees.  The lack of training and heavy handed tactics of the Carnival security are painfully obvious in the videos.

This latest fiasco seems again to be due to a lack of training by Carnival of its shipboard security personnel. 

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

May 21, 2018 Update: Carnival offered the innocent guest a complimentary dinner with an apology for the disruption to his holiday. Carnival said we "are disappointed that the father of one of our guests decided to take matters into his own hands." According to Mr. Sun, "the security guy kept on saying it was because I was Asian and that the person who assaulted the girls was Asian, so it was an easy mistake . . . "   Mr. Sun was quoted as saying "you guys are incompetent, you guys are idiots."

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

Carnival Cruise BrawlCarnival Cruise Line characterized the recent brawl on the Carnival Legend as limited, isolated and unprecedented. But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that these type of fights which occur on Carnival ships are hardly rare. 

There literally are dozens of videos on YouTube of fights which have erupted on cruise ships over the years. The vast majority of these brawls occur on Carnival ships. 

There are reasons for this problem, in my opinion:

The "wider audience:" Cruising is now more popular than ever. The cruise line’s trade organization, CLIA, says that over 27 million passengers will take a cruise this year.  Cheaper fares have attracted what Carnival Corporation chairmen Micky Arison characterizes as the "wider audience." Eight years ago in an article titled Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships, I wrote about CEO Arison discussing potential issues associated with cheap cruise tickets and a more diverse group of passengers.

Cruise executive Arison said: “cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.” I mentioned that the "wider audience" will undoubtedly include a younger crowd from a different demographic, including what I call the hard partying "Bud Light – tank top" crowd.

Too much alcohol on increasingly gigantic ships: Cruise lines aren’t profitable based solely on their cruise fares. Of all "onboard purchases," including casino sales, shore excursions, specialty restaurants and gift shops, alcohol sales are the key to keeping the tax-free foreign flagged cruise ships profitable.  Pushing alcohol sales are a key part of Carnival’s fun ships. Carnival collects literally Carnival Cruise Brawlhundreds of millions of tax-free dollars a year selling booze on the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. Bartenders, who make a earning solely on gratuties and tips, are often prone to over-serve guests. 

Ill trained and and insufficient number of security guards: A common complaint we hear from passengers is that ship security does not intervene at an early stage to stop potentially violent situations from escalting and getting out of hand. Carnival responded to the recent brawl between ship staff and cruise guests by praising its "highly trained security staff." But images of its security personnel and ship officers kicking and beating passengers last week (and trying to stop passengers from filing the out of control violence) speaks volumes about Carnival’s shipboard security and the cruise line’s so-called "zero tolerance" of such violence. In the videos below, the Carnival security personnel are often seen observing the fights or trying to stop people from taking videos of the melees.

Eight years ago, I asked how Carnival will handle the "wider audience" flocking onto its larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," as Carnival’s Arison righfully suggests, what steps are cruise lines taking to protect U.S. families? I asked then and will ask now whether Carnival and other cruise lines will ever hire a full complement of well trained and experienced security guards? Or will they continue to try and save money with only a few inexperienced "guards" trying to protect their guests from the inevitable violence when thousands of people squeeze into the huge ships and far too much booze is added to the mess? 

The answer to these questions is contained in the videos below, which I have ranked in order of out-of-control violence. There are far too many videos to include them all here, including the recent brawl aboard the Carnival Legend.  

If you have a video to nominate, send me a link and we can add it to a ten ten list. 

Carnival Dream (2010): 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Asi0fqG0BB4%3Frel%3D0

 Carnival Splendor (2010): 

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

 Carnival Ship (2011): 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=D7HGc2aoOGc%3Frel%3D0

Carnival Glory (2016):

https://youtube.com/watch?v=qkFuX4IFJXI%3Frel%3D0

 Carnival Breeze (2015):

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2pNB4QUP2IQ%3Frel%3D0

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

Carnival Legend BrawlA video of a brawl on the Carnival Legend shows Carnival security officers and other security personnel kicking passengers while they are on the floor. Carnival officers are also shown trying to prevent other passengers from videotaping the violence.

The video, which was taken by a passenger and aired by Australia’s 3AW693 Talk Radio, is circulating on social media. It shows as many as six officers and a equal number of personnel wearing dark colored shirts with “SECURITY” on the back fighting with unruly passengers on the Carnival Legend.

The news article also states that passengers reported that ship security staff attempted to “censor the situation.” A father who received a telephone call from his son on the ship said that “the security came in and took his phone, and deleted a lot of images from his phone.”

We have reported on many such ship brawls, which have primarily occurred on the Carnival brand of ships over the years.

This latest incident occurs just a few days after a violent brawl on the P&O Pacific Explorer.

We first wrote about the problem of violence on cruise ships back in 2009 in Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships, where we covered a “mini-rampage” on the P&O cruise ship Ventura and a brawl involving Carnival passengers who punched, scratched and bit it out with police in Antigua. The following year, we covered another violent brawl on another Carnival ship in More Carnival Legend BrawlCruise Ship Violence – A Drunken Brawl On Carnival’s Dream. We also wrote about this problem in Another Brawl Breaks Out on a Carnival Fun Ship. YouTube is filled with videotapes of violence on Carnival ships.

The problem arises when the “wider audience” (a term coined by Carnival chairmen Micky Arison) finds their way onto cruise ships attracted by low prices. Add too much alcohol, and too few well-trained security guards on these budget ships, and this is what happens.

Carnival quickly sent out a press statement which states:

“Safety is the number one priority for Carnival Cruise Line, we take a zero tolerance approach to excessive behaviour that affects other guests and we have acted accordingly on Carnival Legend. The ship’s highly trained security staff have taken strong action in relation to a small group of disruptive guests who have been involved in altercations on board. The ship’s security team is applying our zero tolerance policy in the interests of the safety and comfort of other guests.”

Many people posted comments on our Facebook page about the outrageous conduct of the Carnival security personnel kicking the passengers and trying to prevent the videotaping of the brawl.

February 17, 2018 Update: The Washington Post has an interesting article about this incident – A Carnival cruise in the South Pacific descended into violent anarchy.

Photo and video credit: 3AW693

CBS New York aired a short special last night titled Elite NYPD Team Protects City From Dirty Bombs, Waterborne Threats.

The video focused on the efforts of a special unit of the NYPD’s Counter-Terrorism Division which concentrates on protecting the hundreds of cruise ships and other maritime vessels which enter and leave the ports of New York and New Jersey each year.

The special begins with the Norwegian Gem returning in the predawn hours to New York after ten days at sea. Unbeknownst to the passengers, the NCL cruise ship was being swept for a dirty bomb before it entered the port. 

The New York anti-terrorism team reportedly uses radiation detection devices and sonar to scan the ships and docks for explosive devices.

The special briefly discusses the deadly attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 and the last month’s suicide attack on a Saudi Arabian frigate, both occurring in the Red Sea near Yemen, which we have mentioned several times in other articles. 

The CBS crew interviewed the CEO, Dan Richards, of a security company called Global Rescue, which CBS says provides crisis response and evacuation options to travelers. Mr.Richards mentions that that "ISIS and other terrorist organizations are planning these kinds of operations.” This is a sentiment expressed by several U.S. naval commanders in the recent past. Read: Terrorists on the Ocean: Sea Monsters in the 21st Century by Captain Robert N. Hein, U.S. Navy.

Many travelers may be comforted by these security measures in New York and other major seaports like Miami and elsewhere. But, at the same time, the special underscores the lack of security in ports of call outside of the U.S., in places like the Caribbean and North Africa, where the port countries lack the resources to implement sophisticated anti-terrorism plans.

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A passenger who disappeared from the MSC Divina yesterday marks the first person to disappear from a cruise ship in 2017.

As usual, there are no facts released by the cruise line which indicates exactly when, or why, or where, or how the person went overboard.

Based on information released by MSC, the U.S. Coast Guard stated that the passenger was "last seen by his wife at approximately 3 a.m. going out to the couple’s room balcony to take some fresh air." The Coast Guard says that the "circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the passenger remain unknown."  Accordingly, we have only the cruise line’s version of when the wife allegedly last MSC Divinasaw her husband, but there is no indication when the passenger actually went overboard, or when the ship first learned that the passenger went overboard, or whether the ship promptly deployed a rescue craft or other watercraft to conduct a timely search and rescue, or when the ship notified the U.S. Coast Guard to begin search and rescue efforts.  

Yesterday I wrote that it sounds like MSC was not initially aware that the passenger went overboard, which is the typical situation. The vessel’s online automatic information system did not reveal that the vessel slowed down, stopped or turned around to initiate a search for the missing man. MSC told the Coast Guard that, at some undisclosed time, it searched the ship and made call-outs through the public announcement system without success. This sounds like many other cruise lines which are told long after the fact that a person’s loved one or friend cannot be found on the ship. This leads to ship personnel conducting a search or making announcements or reviewing closed-circuit television images to see if it they can figure out what happened to the passenger – an unduly time consuming process considering that the passenger may be struggling in the water as the cruise ship sails away.

Six years ago, President Obama signed the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") which requires cruise line calling on U.S. ports to implement automatic man overboard systems. Before the  CVSSA was passed into law, there was considerable testimony before Congress regarding Man Overboard Systemwhy people go overboard – suicides, accidents, excessive serving and consumption of alcohol, and foul play were all discussed. But whatever the reason for the person going overboard, our Congress determined that cruise lines needed to implement state-of-the-art systems to signal when passengers or crew members went over the rails and into the water.

Since the CVSSA went into effect, cruise lines have resisted implementing the technology. There are many companies which have good systems on the market.  Here is an example (photo left). Here is another. The best systems immediately alert the bridge when someone goes overboard and can track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging so that the person can be located even when someone falls into the water at night. Many systems record the person going overboard so that there is no possibility of a false alarm.  

Man overboard systems also have an important feature of detecting when someone comes over the rails onto the ship. This is an obvious and vital security precaution in this age of terrorism. If someone can go overboard without the cruise line knowing it, then it is just as likely that someone can come onto the ship without detection. 

After my article yesterday, a PR representative from MSC sent me a barrage of emails demanding that I write that the "USCG was alerted by MSC Cruises as soon as the ship became aware of the potentially missing passenger; the ship, as per procedure, started search operations immediately as soon as she became aware of the potentially missing passenger; and the USCG launched its SAR shortly thereafter."  But the PR person refused to state basic facts such as when the passenger went overboard, or when MSC realized it, or whether it delayed notifying the Coast Guard until after it first searched the ship, or whether it conducted any type of timely search itself.  

Disturbing factual questions remain – did MSC even turn the ship around to search for the overboard passenger? Did it just conduct a search on the ship after-the-fact and finally alert the Coast Guard only when its onboard efforts were futile? Does MSC even have any type of man overboard systems in place?  MSC refuses to say.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein’s research indicates that an average of over 20 people go overboard each year on cruise ships. Over 140 people have gone over the rails from cruise ships since 2010. When will cruise lines like MSC focus on implementing state-of-the-art technology rather than on PR efforts to create the illusion that passengers are safe at sea?

January 4, 2017 Update: The Coast Guard suspended its search last night at 9:55 p.m. The Coast Guard is quoted as saying that it "searched for more than 35 hours." If this information is accurate, this means that the Coast Guard initiated its search and rescue around 11:55 a.m. (i.e., 35 hours before 10:55 p.m. the next day), or a bit earlier, on the day the passenger went overboard.  This further means that notice to the Coast Guard was delayed at least 5 hours after the missing man’s wife woke up several hours after last seeing him (around 3:00 a.m.) and realized he was missing from their cabin. The cruise line says that it searched the ship and made announcements for the man, apparently before notifying the Coast Guard.

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Photo credit: MSC Divina – Karl Borg – Albireo2006 – flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia; man overboard video – PureTech Systems.

Cruise Ship Drug BustThe widely reported drug bust of three passengers this week on the Sea Princess cruise ship in Australia uncovered serious shortcomings in Princess Cruises’ shipboard security.  

We have written about dozens of drug busts of relatively small quantities of cocaine on cruise ships over the years.  But 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.!) of cocaine seems to be hard to believe.  Many people have expressed their opinions that this must have been an inside job (we have no proof of this), given the use of screening equipment on cruise ships.  But some people have questioned whether the drugs were loaded onto the ship along with food and provisions and then transferred to the passengers to be smuggled off the ship in their luggage.

If the shipboard security team wasn’t involved, they obviously need to enforce far better protocols to carefully screen baggage and items brought onboard the ship.    

IHS Fairplay published an article today saying that the drug bust "highlights the ability for more sinister items to be smuggled onto vessels."  In an article titled Drugs Find Highlights Cruise Security Threat, Fairplay says that "cruise companies were taking, and continue to take, security seriously but that the incident had to act as a wake-up call to revisit current systems." It quoted Gerry Northwood, a principal of the international maritime security company MAST, explaining that cruise passengers don’t face the Cruise Ship Drug Bustsame restrictions as air travelers.

Northwood also warns that "If a terrorist were to secrete an explosive device inside a consignment of food, it is possible that the explosion would likely happen below the water line with obvious implications for the vessel and the safety of the passengers and crew.”

Commander Mark Gaouette, the former security head of Cunard and Princess Cruises, said in an interview today that the cruise industry should be concerned with the possibility of a terrorist group masterminding a gigantic conflagration on a ship. He cites the 2004 attack by an Islamic terrorist group which planted just eight kilograms of TNT in a cardboard box aboard the Superferry 14 in the Philippines.  The resulting fire and explosion killed over a hundred passengers and sank the ferry. 

Commander Gaouette is the author of Cruising for Trouble, Cruise Ships As Soft Targets for Pirates, Terrorists and Common Criminals

Photo credit: Top – Department of Immigration and Border Protection via Sydney Morning Herald; bottom – Jonathan Ng via the Daily Telegraph.  

 

We are just a few hours before placing 2015 is in our rear view mirror as we start upon a fresh New Year. So what are the memories which come to mind when we think of taking a cruise in 2015?  And what are the lessons that the cruise industry learned in 2015 which will ensure that history does not repeat itself in 2016?

I started the draft of this article by listing all of the ship fires this year, as well as the cases of passenger and crew member overboards, children drowning in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards, and sexual assaults of children and women. But all of these incidents, no matter how tragic, don’t come close to the scope of the death and mayhem associated with the murder of two dozen cruise passengers by terrorists in Tunis, Tunisia.  

The incident which kept coming back to me as I wrote this article was the massacre of twenty-two Tunis Terror Attackcruise passengers from Costa and MSC cruise ships in Tunisia. This terrifying incident involving cruise ships which were docked at the La Goulette cruise port in Tunis should have brought the reality of radical Islamic terrorism directly to the attention of cruise executives in the U.S. and Europe. We warned about incidents like this happening a month prior in ISIS Poses Terrorist Threat to Cruise Ships in Mediterranean. The passengers, however, received no warnings from the cruise operators which sent bus loads of tourists to the Bardo Museum without making any security arrangements whatsoever. 

The day before the massacre, the cruise executives presented a “state of the cruise industry” speech at the annual trade convention on Miami Beach, Cruise Shipping Miami. The CEOs of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), and MSC Cruises discussed building bigger ships and expanding into new markets such as Cuba and China. The CEO of NCL, Frank Del Rio, remarked that “Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon could be more lucrative than Cuba.” The convention audience politely applauded and the other cruise executives smiled. I couldn’t help tweeting “have you heard of ISIS?

With the blood of twenty-two dead passengers on their hands, the cruise lines doubled down and announced that there were no indications that terrorism could strike a cruise ship or its passengers and crew in Tunis. The cruise industry not only refused to take any responsibility for the massacre but the spokesperson for the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) boasted that "cruise ships are a safe and secure place for our guests in the rare event of a shore side incident." MSC Cruises USA CEO Rick Sasso said "There was no hint of terrorism or uncertainty in Tunisia before the attack . . . There are a zillion ports around the world, and we follow all of them. . . There was nothing going on there that indicated this should’ve been a concern."

The truth is that Tunisian soldiers were engaged in ongoing battles against Al Qaeda when the MSC and Costa ships sailed there. There were prior suicides bombers which targeted hotels and museums filled with tourists. The U.K. had issued a prior warning of a terrorist attack on tourist sites and the U.S. repeatedly urged caution. ISIS was recruiting young men from mosques in Tunis to be trained and radicalized in Libya. The signs of trouble were all there.

The most frequent question which I have received this year is "is it safe to cruise in the Mediterranean with my family?" Yahoo asked me to write an opinion piece about the cruise industry shortly after disaster struck at the Bardo museum. In response, I penned Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Siege which provides my thoughts about the issue of safety and international terrorism.

The cruise industry needs to wake up. Tunis was preventable. Greater attention to Al Qaeda and ISIS is necessary to avoid a similar if not worse attack on innocent passengers. Dangerous ports need to be avoided. In the past, Princess Cruises used security teams / police to accompany tour bus excursions in Egypt. Maritime security teams are also required in foreign ports of call to address the risk of waterborne attacks. Cruise lines are overflowing with cash. The cruise industry collects around $45 billion a year, pays their crew members peanuts and doesn’t pay U.S. taxes. The industry needs to start investing some of those tens of millions of dollars into substantial security to keep their guests safe. 

NCL’s executive Del Rio, who salivated over record profits in Tunis and other risky Arab/Middle Eastern ports earlier this year was interviewed by Travel Weekly last week. Of course he remains bullish about cruising in 2016 but said that terrorism is always the "elephant in the room."  Well it’s time that the cruise lines began talking about the elephant.

In the past couple of weeks, travel agents and travel writers have written articles about whether cruise lines are prepared for radical Islamic terrorism. A Florida travel agent wrote "A Boatload of Reasons Why You Should Feel Secure on a Cruise Ship" for Travel Pulse. Australian travel writer Michael Gebicki wrote "How Do Cruise Ships Guard Against Terrorism?" Neither article explains what cruise lines are actually doing or provide any reason why you should feel protected on a cruise ship. Both articles are just spinning the story to assure that travel in places like North Africa and the Middle East are not disrupted. These articles don’t even admit that most cruise lines do not have any weapons on the ships to repel an organized attack up the gangway. Take a look at the pitiful way cruise ships responded to the threat of pirates and you can quickly realize that the industry is unarmed and not prepared to protect the passengers or crew. 

Cruise ship security teams seem to have their hands full responding to drunk passengers on their ships.  A well organized attack by ISIS will send the weapon-less security guards scurrying into the ship. The obvious will then become apparent – that cruise ships are sitting ducks.  We already know that al Qaeda has planned to seize cruise ships and execute passengers years ago. The difference today is that terrorists are no longer interested in holding hostages, but are motivated to simply kill and terrorize as many people as possible.

There will be travelers who read this and will respond that the threat of terrorism is everywhere; just ask the residents of Paris or the citizens in San Bernardino, California. Don’t be afraid because the terrorists will already be winning, they will say. Perhaps so.  But my thoughts are that a family looking for a relaxing vacation who picks a cruise vacation to the Mediterranean on a huge cruise ship fiiled with thousands of other passengers is just asking for trouble. 

Photo Credit: Bottom AFP

Security failed the tourists from the Costa and MSC cruise ships visiting Tunisia last week. The result: 17 dead cruise passengers and two dozen injured.

Tunisia acknowledges it. The risk of jihadists attacking tourists was readily foreseeable. Security analysts and security forces blew it.

In response to this failure, Tunisia fired the country’s leading security experts as well as high ranking police officers.

Tunis Terror Attack CruiseTwo newspapers covered the firings.

Al Jazeera  published Six Tunisia Police Chiefs Dismissed Over Museum Attack. The article explains that Tunisia’s prime minister Habas Essid fired six police commanders, including those in charge of tourist security and intelligence teams. In addition, a police officer working at the museum was arrested for abandoning his post during the attack. Four other armed police officers "were having coffees and a snack" when terrorists struck the museum. 

The Daily News published Tunisia Fires 5 Top Security Officials in Bardo Museum Attack Backlash. The article pointed out that the ousted officials include the director of Tunisia’s tourist police and the police chief for the neighborhood around the Bardo Museum. The decision was reportedly made after the prime minister visited the neighborhood of the attack and observed security problems. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi reportedly also criticized security failures around last week’s attack.

But what about the security chief at Costa and MSC, including ship security officers and fleet-wide security directors? Why weren’t they fired? They are just as responsible for the security failure. The cruise lines picked the port and sailed their guests into danger without any security protection or warnings. The cruise industry is not only refusing to take any responsibility for the massacre but the spokesperson for the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is boasting that "cruise ships are a safe and secure place for our guests in the rare event of a shore side incident."

MSC Cruises USA CEO Rick Sasso told Travel Pulse "There was no hint of terrorism or uncertainty in Tunisia before the attack . . . There are a zillion ports around the world, and we follow all of them. . . There was nothing going on there that indicated this should’ve been a concern."

I am amazed how clueless this cruise executive sounds. Tunisian soldiers were engaged in ongoing battles against Al Qaeda, there were prior suicides bombers which targeted hotels and museum attacks which targeted tourists. The UK issued a prior warning of a terrorist attack on tourist sites and the US repeatedly urged caution. ISIS was recruiting young men from mosques in Tunis to be trained and radicalized in Libya.  And MSC sails in like everything is fine.   

Tunisia should be commended for taking responsibility and cleaning house.

It’s a shame that the PR department at CLIA and the CEO of MSC are engaged in their usual irresponsible shenanigans and gobbledygook.  

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Photo Credit: AFP/Getty via DailyMail

Yesterday, a reader of Cruise Law News sent me a message indicating that Holland America Line (HAL) is announcing that it is testing a man overboard system.

The reader was a recent cruise passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam during the first week of this month. He mentioned that the announcement was in the ship’s “Today On Location” (daily program).  Another reader sent a similar message to me after cruising on the Westerdam (photo below) last week.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have complained loudly and often about the refusal of the HAL Westerdamcruise industry to install automatic man overboard systems, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.  The cruise industry collects over $45 billion dollars a year and pays no U.S. taxes.  Plus, it’s a personal issue with me, after representing clients whose loved ones (husband, daughter, son, brother . . . ) disappeared on the high seas under mysterious circumstances.

One of my clients, Laurie Dishman, was instrumental in seeing that the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act was passed into law. Laurie traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times at her own expense, together with other members of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, to lobby Congress in support of the law. A photo of Laurie with President Obama as he signed the cruise safety bill into law is by my desk. It greets me everyday when I arrive at work, and reminds me why I am a lawyer.

HAL has more than its fair share of passengers and crew disappearing at sea with absolutely no video or explanation indicating why or how the person ended up in the sea. I have written about such tragedies here, here, here, here and here. There are other cases. Thermal maritime technology has been around for a long time. Is HAL really the first to apply it to man overboard situations?

Just last week a young Indian seaman, who just joined the HAL this month as a cook, disappeared from the Ryndam cruise ship. His body washed ashore on a beach in Clearwater, Florida two days ago. The spectacle of the young man’s body being discovered with his HAL identification card in his pocket by an early morning beachcomber is a gruesome reminder that cruise lines must be forced to comply with the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

Did the Ryndam have an automatic man overboard system that HAL is now touting to their passengers? It doesn’t seem so. The ship doesn’t even seem to have CCTV cameras which should have captured the young man’s image as he was going overboard so that he could have been rescued.

I suppose that it’s good news that HAL is announcing that it’s finally testing an automatic man overboard system. At the same time, it’s distressing to hear that the HAL’s man overboard system is the “first ever” such system for a cruise ship. I have heard rumors that two other cruise lines may have man overboard systems, but I have seen no proof of that and there has never been any official announcement by any other cruise line.

There are hundreds of cruise ships operated by many dozens of cruise lines in the world. I suppose a cruise line that is the first to test a man overboard system should be proud of its accomplishment. But it’s a sad indictment of the rest of the cruise lines which are competing to build the biggest and best cruise ships which still have no automatic man overboard systems as required by law.

Does anyone know whether the Ryndam’s daily program mentions that it has a man overboard system? Does anyone have details about the new system?

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Roger Wollstadt Creative Commons 2.0

HAL Man Overboard System

After a 33 year-old Disney waiter molested an 11 year-old girl aboard the Disney Dream at the port of Cape Canaveral, the cruise ship’s staff captain ordered a security officer not to contact local U.S. police officers or the FBI. 

That’s what former Disney security officer Dawn Taplin told Orlando news station WKMG Local 6 in an interview which aired last night. WKMG reporter Mike DeForest conducted the interview.  

The Dream then left the U.S. port and sailed to Nassau where Disney flew the pervert back to his home in India.

According to the WKMG interview, Officer Taplin previously worked for the Palm Bay Police Department and Port Canaveral Police. Disney Cruise Child MolestationDisney recruited her to work for the family-oriented cruise line as a Security Officer. She was responsible for supervising 8 or 9 security guards. She was the first female security officer at Disney. 

In 2012 Officer Taplin was involved in the investigation of a child molestation case on the Disney Dream. An upset, crying 11 year-old girl told her that a 33 year-old Disney waiter followed her into an elevator and grabbed her breast and kissed her on the mouth. Officer Taplin reviewed surveillance video that confirmed the incident and wanted to call Port Canaveral police or her longtime contact with the FBI in Brevard County. However, Officer Taplin says that the cruise ship’s staff captain ordered her not to report the crime. 

WKMG reported that the Disney Dream left Port Canaveral promptly at 5:02 p.m. with the victim and the molestation suspect still on board.

Officer Taplin told WKMG that "Disney waits on passengers’ luggage . . . not setting sail on time. I remember waiting until 6:30 one time on somebody’s luggage."

The Disney staff captain was not identified in the interview.  it will be interesting to determine his identity and find out whether he is still working on Disney cruise ships. It will also be interesting to learn whether the staff captain contacted Disney’s shore-side risk management department about the crime before the cruise ship left the jurisdiction and determine whether the quick departure was approved by Disney’s corporate management. Disney was quoted, when WKMG exposed the cover-up, saying that the ship handled the case properly. 

Image and video credit:  WKMG Local 6 (Orlando)

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