The United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from a NCL cruise ship yesterday off of Southern California.

The Norwegian Star requested assistance on Thursday morning from the Coast Guard after a 68-year-old man began experiencing problems related his heart.

The cruise ship was approximately 310 miles at sea but diverted toward shore in order to meet a Coast Guard helicopter which flew 200 miles west from San Diego.

The passenger was hoisted aboard the helicopter and flown to San Diego. Emergency medical services personnel then transferred the passenger to UC San Diego Medical Center.  The Coast Guard says the man was reported to be in stable condition.

Video credit: Video by Seaman Taylor BaconU.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET San Diego via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

According to The Telegraph newspaper, NCL cruise executive Andy Stuart’s 83-year-old mother told the newspaper that Norwegian Star cruise guest Kay Longstaff, who went overboard as the cruise ship was heading back to Venice three days ago,

“. . . didn’t fall off. She jumped. This has cost Norwegian Cruise Line $600,000. This stupid woman.”

Mr. Suart’s mother told the U.K. newspaper that he was upset that Ms. Longstaff caused “massive disruption to fellow passengers while costing Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.”

Over the years, I have written many dozens of articles about people going overboard from cruise ships.  One of the first things that readers think when a passenger (or cruise employee) goes overboard is that “you can’t fall from a cruise ship.”

Most of the time, the person who goes over the rails of a cruise ship is not rescued.  In fact, less than 15% of people who go into the sea are rescued. They die at sea. But that doesn’t stop cynics from attacking the dead cruisers as being “stupid.”  Considering that 319 people have gone overboard in the last two decades according to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this means that well over 250 families have grieved or are grieving the loss of a family member lost at sea from a cruise ship.

The cruise industry does not bother to keep statistics of the number of people who go overboard, or the reasons why they do, choosing instead to label their disappearances to be the “result of an intentional or reckless act,” as pointed out by NPR in a recent article.

The “intentional or reckless act” is a talking point from the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization (“CLIA”). CLIA, of course, claims that cruising is “one of the safest forms of travel” and claims that it is impossible to go overboard unless cruise guests act recklessly.

Over-intoxication is the leading cause of passengers going overboard from cruise ships, by far. Pushing alcohol during cruises is a fundamental part of the cruise business. Bar and tavern owners know that customers often act recklessly when they are over-served alcohol. Things are no different on the high seas.

Just last week, a jury in Miami heard testimony about Samantha Broberg,  a guest on the Carnival Liberty. In 2016, Carnival served her 19 drinks over the course of the day and evening, rendering her well past the point of obvious intoxication. She staggered out of the cruise ship bar after 1:30 A.M., sat on a railing in a drunken stupor, and fell into the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The cruise ship did not have an automatic man overboard system installed, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which President Obama signed into law and became effective in 2012.

Such a system would have instantly signaled the bridge that a person went over the railing, captured the person’s image and tracked the person in the water, even at night, via combination of motion-detection, infrared and radar technology.  Carnival eventually resorted to reviewing CCTV images after-the-fact once the woman’s friends reported her missing around 11:00 A.M. the next morning and searching the ship even though the woman went into the water several hundreds of nautical miles earlier. Carnival eventually contacted the United States Coast Guard around 5:00 P.M the following day while it continued heading back to its home port in Galveston.

Ms. Bromberg’s body was never found.

Ms. Bromberg left behind a loving husband and four children.  But that didn’t stop the cruise cynics from calling her drunk and stupid.”

Like Carnival, NCL doesn’t seem to have installed an automatic man overboard system on the Norwegian Star.  So when Ms. Longstaff went over the rails late at night, perhaps just like Ms. Broberg did two-and-one-half years earlier, the ship’s bridge was not automatically and immediately notified. The ship continued sailing until her friends notified the ship that they could not find her.

After turning around to search for her many hours later, the NCL cruise ship eventually abandoned the search and returned to Venice, arriving around 3:00 P.M. rather than the scheduled 8:00 A.M. The cruise ship was full of upset passengers who were agitated that they had missed their flights home and had to look for a hotel.

As explained in articles by Quartz and NPR, this is the second time in two months that NCL abandoned a search for an overboard guest or cruise employee and returned to the ship’s home port due to pressure from  angry passengers and in order to re-rack the ships with new guests for the next cruise.  The same thing happened with the Norwegian Getaway last month when the Getaway decided to head back to Miami after a short search for a crew member who had jumped overboard, leaving the Coast Guard during the middle of the search. (The crew member was eventually rescued the next day by a passing Carnival cruise ship,)

It’s bitterly ironic that NCL cruise CEO Stuart, or his mom, would complain about Ms. Longstaff’s going overboard when its was NCL which probably over-served her alcohol in the first place, and didn’t equip its cruise ship with an automatic man overboard system even though it knows that other intoxicated guests have disappeared overboard during cruises.  It was also NCL which abandoned its search for her as she treaded water for over 10 hours in the Adriatic Sea.

And as far as NCL having to allegedly pay for their guests’ airfare and hotel accommodations in Venice? Hogwash.  NCL has a well deserved penny-pinching reputation for never paying for missed ports or cruises gone wrong though its own negligence. It has never reimbursed its guests’ airfare or hotel accommodations caused by a delayed return to port following a passenger lost at sea. It’s preposterous to believe that NCL allegedly paid anything to the guests who they dumped in Venice at the end of the ill-fated cruise, much less $600,000 as claimed by Mr. Stuart’s mom in the Telegraph.

Most of the passengers who have contacted me about this case complain that NCL refuses to reimburse them for their airfare changes and hotel expenses due to the the Star’s late return to Venice.

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

Here are just a couple of automatic man overboard systems available to the cruise industry (there are several others):

MARSS Mobtronic

Pure Tech

Photo credit:  Croatian Coast Guard, Harbour Master’s Office, Rijeka via ABC News.

 

A person has gone overboard from the Norwegian Star cruise ship, according to a passenger on the Norwegian cruise ship who contacted me this morning.

The Norwegian Star was returning to Venice, Italy from a “7-Night Greek Isles from Venice” cruise when a person went overboard after the ship left from Dubrovnik, Croatia and before it reached Venice. The cruise began in Venice and sailed to Kotor and several ports in Greece before stopping in Dubrovnik.

The passenger complained that the Star was delayed returning to Venice until around 3:00 P.M. local time rather than its scheduled time of 8:00 A.M.

There are unconfirmed reports that a passenger went overboard from the ship, apparently late last night/early this morning.

The AIS data show that the Norwegian Star eventually retraced its route and apparently conducted a search in north Adriatic Sea off of the coast of Croatia before eventually heading back to Venice. After NCL stopped searching, the Croatian Coast Guard reportedly located and reportedly rescued the overboard person.

If this information is accurate, this is the second recent case where an overboard person from a NCL cruise ship was rescued after NCL abandoned the search and returned to the home port.  Six weeks ago, a crew member from the Norwegian Getaway jumped overboard and was eventually rescued the following day by the Carnival Glory north of Cuba. Newspapers reported that the person was rescued approximately 22 hours later, but the time was actually more like 35 hours from the time that the crew member went overboard early in the morning. The Getaway had ended its search (while the U.S. Coast Guard continued its efforts) and returned to Miami after cruise passengers complained bitterly that a late return to port would cause them to miss their return flights home after the cruise.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 319 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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August 19, 2018 @11:00 A.M. Update: The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that the British woman was rescued by the Croatian Coast Guard.

 

 

Blue Horizon Ro-RoA young man went overboard from a passenger ship in the port of Piraeus four days ago, according to the Safety4Sea publication. During the evening of May 23, 2018, the passenger went overboard from the "RoRo" (roll on / roll off) ferry Blue Horizon, while the ship was still docked in the port of Piraeus.

The Piraeus Port Authority and the Hellenic Coast Guard authorities are reportedly searching for the 25 year-old man.

The man overboard incident was first reported after the passenger ship had departed from Piraeus for the port of Heraklion, with 255 passengers aboard; however, the ship returned to Piraeus once the officers realized that a passenger was missing. 

Safety4Sea states that once the Port Authority was notified, five patrol boats of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Hellenic Navigation searched for the missing man without success. 

The Blue Horizon is owned and managed by Blue Star Ferries Maritime based in Athens, Greece.

Man overboards ("MOB’s") are an issue which occur not only on large cruise ships but have been an ongoing problem regarding ferries and other passenger ships.  The most publicized case is that involving a young man on the Pride of Kent who went overboard several years ago. Richard Fearnside disappeared from the P&O Ferries ship, sailing across the English Channel, which like all other ferries operated by this company did not have an automatic man overboard system or, for that matter, even a single CCTV camera focused on an exterior deck. 

Richard’s parents, Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.) have petitioned the ferry company to install cameras on the decks of its ships, without success to date. Over 100,000 have signed the petition to date

Photo credit:  Shipspotting via Safety4Sea

Norwegian StarSeveral passengers onboard the Norwegian Star state that the NCL cruise ship is returning to Miami a day early due to a medical emergency.

One passenger on the ship writes:

"The Norwegian Star is speeding to Miami, to arrive 10 hours early due to a passenger medical emergency onboard. The Star will now arrive at 6 PM on Sunday instead of 4 AM Monday. Passengers other than the medical evacuee must remain on board until the regular disembarkation date . . . "

If this information is in fact accurate, it seems odd that the Star has not contacted the U.S. Coast Guard to request a helicopter medevac.

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

Amazon River Cruise BoatOne of the very first articles I wrote when I started this blog almost eight years ago was about the Death on the High Seas Act. "DOHSA," as it is commonly called, is one of the cruelest and most unfair, if not completely callous, laws imaginable. When an adult child loses a parent on the high seas (defined as outside of U.S. state territorial waters, including the rivers and waters of foreign countries), the law permits, at best, the recovery of only "pecuniary" (financial) losses, such as lost wages (assuming the person is employed). If the person is a retiree, the only damages permitted are the expenses of burying their loved one. Emotional damages such as grief, bereavement, mental anguish, sadness and suffering are prohibited. 

The article was titled The Death on the High Seas Act – Screwing American Passengers for 89 Years. It explains how families are not compensated because DOHSA prohibits non-pecuniary damages when their loved ones die on international waters. The cruise lines love DOSHA. Cruise lines have lobbied heavily over the years to keep the ancient maritime law on the books. DOSHA punishes families when they lose a parent, or child, on the high seas, notwithstanding the negligence of a cruise line. 

Today, Jill and Kelly Hammer, the daughters of Larry and Cristy Hammer, were reminded of the cruelty of DOSHA when several newspapers covered the latest development regarding their deceased parents, namely that the operator of the La Estrella Amazonica was reportedly grossly negligent and caused the fire which killed the Hammers while they slept in their cabin on La Estrella Amazonica, a river cruise boat on the Peruvian Amazon. It’s a sad story which we wrote about earlier last year – Deadly Amazon River Fire Update: International Expeditions’ La Estrella Amazonica (photos and video).

La Estrella Amazonica has now been renamed by International Expeditions as the Amazon Star.  

The Wall Street Journal’s article today, When People Die at Sea, Cruise Operators Often Get a Pass, is "subscription only" although the title suggests that cruise operators are literally getting away with, if not murder, deadly criminal negligence.  Another article, published by the World-Herald Bureau, titled Report on Gretna Couple’s Death in Cruise Ship Fire Finds Fault with Ship’s Safety Features, Crew’s Training, reaches the same conclusion.  

You can read these articles and make your own mind up about the reportedly unsafe conditions aboard La Estrella Amazonica, the lack of training and qualifications of its crew, and the shifty conduct of the owner and operator of the river cruise boat, International Expeditions, and its president, Van Perry, whose underwriters demanded that Jill and Kelley agree to a gag order (which they rejected) before the cruise operator would meet with them and talk about the circumstances surrounding their parent’s death. 

The point to come away with after reading about this terrible ordeal is that this is the exactly the result that the cruise lines want after cruise passengers have been killed. Christina Perez, PR person for the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that if DOHSA was amended to permit fair damages "droves of foreign litigants would "burden an already crowded U.S. judicial system." She also resorted to other scare tactics, saying that "insurance rates for cruise ships would skyrocket, increasing prices and potentially jeopardizing thousands of jobs created by the industry." 

This is hardly true. The cruise industry is a rich, billion-dollar business, where it’s CEO’s regularly collect tens of millions of dollars a year, and which registers its cruise ships in foreign countries like the Bahamas and Panama, in order to avoid the taxes, labor laws and safety regulations of the U.S.  

Ms. Perez later contradicted herself by claiming that the U.S. Congress did not amend DOHSA to permit additional damages (like it did in aviation cases) because the "maritime industry has a superior safety record."*  

CLIA has poured around $30,000,000 into the pockets of Congress in the last decade, according to the Wall Street Journal, to keep the DOHSA legislation which it loves. 

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

April 13, 2017 Update: Fox News Travel, today, published Cruise ship responsible for couple’s death, report finds which covered the story and discusses the harsh limitations of DOSHA.  

April 14, 2017 Update: The U.K.’s Daily Mail, the world largest online newspaper, published Cruise company is finally found responsible for fire that engulfed Amazon tour boat and killed retired Nebraska couple.

May 8, 2017 Update: Fortune: The Cruise Industry’s Priority Is Clear: Profits Over Passenger Safety.

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal 

*/The cruise industry, in fact, has experienced far more deaths on its ships than the U.S. commercial aviation fleet in the last decade, although commercial airlines transport over 30 times as many passengers a year. Read our article from several years ago: Cruise Ships: The Deadliest Form of Public Transportation

Continue Reading Cruise Operators Continue to Hide Behind the Death on the High Seas Act

NCL Norwegian StarPassengers aboard NCL’s Norwegian Star are telling me that the ship’s azipod system has failed. The cruise ship is skipping Miami today and is heading for Tampa one day early. One passenger said that the next cruise is reportedly canceled. (The cancellation of the next cruise is not confirmed information. Please double check this information with your travel agents or the cruise line).

Another passenger said that he did not know whether the next cruise on Monday is canceled. He told me that the captain made the announcement about the azipod problems and said that "all communication with us has been absolutely clear, giving us free internet and phone calls and helping us to change hotel, and transportation bookings. Although it not an ideal situation the crew has behaved amazingly in this transatlantic and they have always provided us with transparent information."

This ship experienced propulsion problems earlier this year which were supposedly fixed while in dry dock.

Anyone have additional info?

Photo Credit:  Pjotr Mahhonin Creative Commons Via Wikipedia

Newspapers in India are reporting that a thirty year old male Indian passenger disappeared in the Strait of Malacca from the SuperStar Gemini operated by Star Cruises.

Rajkumar Agarwal, from Calcutta, India, was cruising with his extended family who boarded the SuperStar Gemini on October 4th. He is the youngest of three brothers and was involved in the family’s business.  

He was last seen around midnight on October 6th. 

SuperStar GeminiHis family is complaining that the cruise line is keeping them in the dark regarding what happened. 

Mr. Agarwal’s family did not know that he was missing from the ship until the next morning. 

The captain of the cruise ship allegedly said that CCTV cameras recorded someone going overboard around 12.22 A.M. but refused to show the footage to the family.

The cruise ship apparently did not have an automatic man overboard system which would have automatically signaled the bridge that a person went overboard and into the water. 

There apparently were not any type of search and rescue procedures initiated by the cruise line. 

The Malaysian police and the cruise line are apparently claiming that Mr. Agarwal committed suicide. This is a usual defense quickly raised by a cruise line. The newspaper says that the police are theorizing that Mr. Agarwal may have "lost heavily" at the casino. 

But a Calcutta newspaper says that family members describe Mr. Agarwal as "happy, cheerful" person with no history of suicide who "having a great time at the casino." 

You can read additional information here.

The disappearance was first reported on Professor Ross Klein’s website.

In March of this year, a passenger went overboard from the Star Cruises SuperStar Libra. His body was later recovered.  

Photo Credit:  Facebook via Telegraph of India

A number of people contacted me after I wrote about the editors at Cruise Critic picking the Viking Star (Viking’s first ocean-going cruise ship) as the "Best New Cruise Ship" for 2015.

Cruise passengers and crew members brought to my attention that there have been problems with the Viking Star from day one. They mentioned "technical" issues like the failure of the propulsion systems only five months in service. Apparently, no one from shore-side management from the home office appeared in Tallinn following the fiasco.

A major issue faced the cruise ship this summer when glass shower doors, that has been installed wrong, began exploding while in use, leaving passengers bleeding.  

There has reporedly been a significant turnover of ship employees. Many crew members were not provided with written contracts until later and the financial terms were allegedly lower than verbally promised.

The new ship apparently did not have employment or technical manuals. Many crew members were told to bring manuals and procedures from their former cruise ship. There were inconsistent procedures from a mishmash of cruise line protocols. Some people even allegedly started to put Viking logos over the former logos just to have procedures.

Many crew members were frustrated that there seemed to be a general lack of experience of operating ships at sea rather than in a river. One person sent us a video of an anchoring mid fjord when the Viking Star almost ran aground. 

Another reader talked about the scandal surrounding the Godmother for the new cruise ship, Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen City in Norway. She is recently under police investigation due to allegations of bribery by the ship owner.  You can read an article here (it is Norwegian, so you will need to translate it). Among other things, Godmother Drevland is accused of being flown in a private jet, to Venice in June to participate in the launch of Viking Star. The air travel and stay at a luxury hotel were allegedly paid by the chairman and chief executive officer Torstein Hagen. You can read more details here.

In an industry which relies on marketing images and rave reviews, it appears that there is dirt behind the scenes that neither Cruise Critic nor the Viking Star owners want you to know.   

 

A newspaper in Malaysia is reporting that the body of a man who fell overboard from the Star Cruises MV Super Star Libra was found last night.

The body of Mulianto Raik, age 50, an Indonesian, was found by fishermen in Malaysia waters. 

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Penang Maritime District 2 took possession of the body and Star Cruises Super Star Libra turned it over to the police for investigation.

Mr. Raik had disappeared from the Super Star Libra on Friday March 13, 2015. A search and rescue operation took place after surveillance film showed that he had fallen from the cruise ship. 

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein at least 247 have gone overboard from cruise ship since 2000.

The cruise ship was originally operated by Norwegian Cruise Line from 1988–1997 as the Seaward and from 1997–2005 as the Norwegian Sea. it has operated from 2005–present as the SuperStar Libra. It is flagged in the Bahamas.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Cprogrammer Creative Commons 2.0