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.

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.

On December 8, 2017, a crew member went overboard from the Vision of the Seas cruise ship operated by Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruises. I reported on the incident at the time based on what passengers were stating about the cruise.

The Vision sailed out of Galveston on December 4, 2017 on a seven day cruise, leaving and returning to Galveston, to ports in Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico.  During the return cruise to Galveston, a crew member could not be accounted for. He apparently checked into his job in the early morning hours but had disappeared from the cruise ship sometime thereafter. A ship-wide search was conducted without success.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

I wrote at the time that there was no indication that the ship stopped or turned around to conduct a search in the water. Unfortunately, the scenario fits a typical pattern when a crew member goes over the rails un-witnessed late at night or in the early hours of the morning on a Royal Caribbean ship. Royal Caribbean has not invested in the available automatic man-overboard technology (using heat sensors, infrared, motion detection and/or radar technology) which can send a signal to the bridge, capture the image of the person going overboard, and track the person by radar in the water. Instead, the ship will eventually review closed-circuit television images, conduct a search of the cabin on the ship, often not perform a search at sea, and belatedly notify the U.S. Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean registered the Vision of the Seas in the Bahamas which is responsible for conducting investigations when passengers or crew members go overboard from cruise ships registered in that flag of convenience (“FOC”) country. The Bahamas Maritime Authority (“BMA”) just published its investigation into this man overboard situation on the Vision. You can read the report here.

The BMA report offers a rare insight into how Royal Caribbean responds to and investigates man overboard situations. The report also attached internal security summaries and portions of Royal Caribbean’s safety and quality (“SQM”) manual which outline the cruise line’s written policies and procedures regarding a “missing person.”

The report reveals that Royal Caribbean repeatedly failed to inquire into the missing crew member’s whereabouts and failed to timely report his absence from the ship to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean register their cruise ships in countries like the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. labor regulations and U.S. income taxes. They are used to having FOC states look the other way and not criticize them in situations like this, but the BMA report reveals very disturbing information about the shoddy operations of this cruise ship.

The BMA report indicates that the crew member was a 24 year-old citizen of Mauritius. The report  mentions that the crew member was a facilities cleaner who worked at the pool area on deck 9. He woke up around 4:30 A.M. in a cabin which he shared with his girlfriend who was also from Mauritius. He reported to work at 5:00 A.M. He walked to elevators which took him to deck nine and then he took an elevator to deck five. He walked to the stern on deck 5, placed his cleaning bucket on the deck, climbed over the stern rail and then climbed back onto the deck, and then walked toward the port side where he apparently jumped overboard.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

CCTV images (which officers on the ship first reviewed approximately eight and one-half hours later) show the crew member’s movements on decks 9 and 5 but do not show the crew members actually going overboard because a floodlight blocked the CCTV camera on the port/aft side on Deck 5 with a view of the stern of the ship.

There was no mention in the report of an automatic man overboard system which would have immediately sent a signal and alarm to the bridge that the crew member went over the rails.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Royal Caribbean does not monitor the CCTV cameras on its cruise ships.

The BMA reveals the following chronology:

  • 04:30 – Crew member awakes and leaves cabin which he shared with his girlfriend;
  • 05:00 – Crew member reports to work and his supervisor assigns him the deck 9 pool deck to clean;
  • 05:09 – 5:14 – Crew member shown on CCTV heading to and walking on deck 9 and then goes to deck 5 where he climbs over the stern railing near the crew life-raft canister area which does not provide direct access to the sea and then he climbs over the rail back onto deck 5;
  • 05:14 – Crew member walks to port side of the stern which has direct drop to the water and apparently jumps overboard (although CCTV camera is blocked);
  • 09:30 – Crew member fails to attend mandatory safety training;
  • 12:00 – Designated safety officer responsible for training goes to lunch without noting that the crew member was absent from training;
  • 12:40 – Crew member’s supervisor, the Facilities Head Cleaner, notes that the crew member is missing from his work station;
  • 12:45 – 1st Announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:05 – Bridge was informed;
  • 13:16 – 2nd announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:40 – 3rd announcement made in crew and areas;
  • 13:40 – 14:45 – Officers review CCTV footage; take statements from the facilities head cleaner and head cleaner; staff captain and master interview the crew member’s girlfriend and isolates her in a different cabin with a security guard posted outside the door;
  • 14:45 – Security officer notifies Global Security department in Miami of a “possible missing person;”
  • 15:20 – Search of ship begins;
  • 15:45 – Security Officer seals crew member’s cabin, locks cabin door with padlock and “crime scene tape;” officers conclude that there is no clear view of crew member jumping overboard because the area of the railing is not covered by CCTV (blind area) but concludes that “CCTV clearly showed a CM …. entering the area where he possible jumped over board and did not return back;”
  • 15:47 – Master notifies U.S. Coast Guard in Galveston by telephone about “missing person” situation;
  • 16:49 – “Whole ship search” completed but missing crew member not found.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

There are a couple of conclusions which can readily be made from this chronology:

It took seven and one-half hours before the supervisor noticed that the crew member was missing from his work station.  It took eight and one-half hours before the safety officer reviewed the CCTV images. It took over nine and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard (and two hours after the first public announcement of the missing man were made on the ship) before the security officer finally notified the security department in Miami that a crew member probably went overboard. It then took over another hour to finally notify the U.S. Coast Guard of the overboard crew member. At this time, it Royal Caribbean SQM Safety and Quality Manual was then over ten and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard.

It appears that the officers on the Royal Caribbean ship were indifferent to whether the Coast Guard even conducted a search after this extraordinary delay.  The Security Officer wrote in his report (attached to the BMA report) that “we are not aware if a search was carried out by USCG.”

The Royal Caribbean SQM (blurred in original) requires the master of the cruise ship to “immediately” notify the cruise line’s security and marine operations departments by telephone in any “suspected overboard situation.” Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the SQM also prohibits the Master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water and even then only after the Master first notifies the cruise line’s marine operations department in Miami.

Notably absent from the flag state report is any mention of the fact that the cruise ship lacked an automatic man overboard system. The report’s conclusions and recommendations do not discuss the obvious problem that the bridge was not immediately aware that the crew members went over the rails. The only conclusion of significance was that if the security “trainer had reported him absent when training was to commence (i.,e., at 9:30, over four hours after the crew member went overboard) then his own work supervisor may have raised the alarm considerably earlier.” The only recommendation in the report was to review “possible impediments to all cameras should be made and rectified where found.”

Vision of the Seas SQM Safety and Quality Manual Royal Caribbean

This is hardly a reasonable conclusion or recommendation. Eliminating blind spots in CCTV cameras (to be reviewed only after-the-fact when crew members have already gone overboard long ago) or requiring diligence in requiring attendance in crew training (again with the hope that a person not attending a training session will somehow result in a supervisor learning that a crew member went overboard hours earlier) will not possibly achieve immediate notification of a man overboard.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean 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.

Until the United States Coast Guard becomes concerned with the absence of automatic man overboard systems on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports and institutes serious action against the companies for the extreme delays in reporting overboard crew and passengers (like preventing the ships from sailing), cruise lines like Royal Caribbean will continue to act in this irresponsible manner.

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Image credits: Bahamian Maritime Authority

The Vision of the Seas lost power during the early morning hours of May 22, 2018. Several passengers are reporting that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship sustained a power and propulsion outage, leaving the ship floating in the Sea of Crete with only its emergency lighting on.

Subsequent information is that the ship regained power and is now sailing slowly toward Santorini. AIS systems (right) show the ship under power at a speed of a little over 7 knots.

There is an unconfirmed rumor that the Vision allegedly struck something, although this has not been confirmed.

The Vision of the Seas is sailing on a 12 day cruise from Monday, May 14 to Saturday, May 26 to the Greek Isles, leaving and returning to Barcelona, Spain.  It was sailing between Mykonos to Santorini when it experienced power failure.

The Vision of the Seas is twenty years old, sailing its inaugural cruise in May of 1998.

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May 22, 2018 Update: photographs by John Brown via Cruceros Puerto Rico.

 

This morning the United States Coast Guard medevaced a 23 year old passenger from the cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas,  according to a Baton Rouge news station.

The young woman was suffering from "suspected internal bleeding from a prior incident." It is less than clear what prior incident the news account is referring to.

The cruise ship was reportedly 100 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana when the Eighth Coast Guard District launched a helicopter and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft to assist in the rescue of the woman.

The Coast Guard said the helicopter aircrew arrived on scene at 10 a.m. this morning and took the woman from the cruise ship to Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans where the woman was reported to be in stable condition.  

Photo credit: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Giles, U.S. Coast Guard District 8.

Medevac Vision of the Seas

Vision of the SeasToday, several passengers contacted me to ask for information regarding a Royal Caribbean crew member who apparently disappeared from the Vision of the Seas last week.

On Friday, December 9, 2017, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, which had left from Galveston, Texas earlier in the week, made announcements that a crew member could not be accounted for on the ship as of the early evening. The crew member has apparently checked into his job in the early morning hours but had disappeared sometime thereafter. A ship-wide search was conducted without success.

There was speculation that high winds and rough seas may have played a part in the crew member going overboard.

There is no indication that the ship stopped or turned around to conduct a search in the water. Unfortunately, the scenario fits a typical pattern when a crew member goes over the rails unwitnessed late at night or in the early hours of the morning on a Royal Caribbean ship.  Royal Caribbean has not invested in the available automatic man-overboard technology (using heat sensors or infrared or motion detection and radar technology) which can send a signal to the bridge, capture the image of the person going overboard, and track the person by radar in the water.  Instead, the ship will conduct a cabin search for the missing person, review closed-circuit television images and often do not perform a search at sea.

As I recently explained in an article about MSC Cruises recently implementing this technology, MSC Cruises Implements New Man Overboard System Amidst Industry Delays, over 22 people on average disappear each year from cruise ships, and only 13.8% are saved. Unfortunately, the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization (CLIA), has chosen to minimize cruise disappearances by misleading PR releases rather than devoting financial resources toward improving safety. Most cruise lines do not invest in MOB systems which do not return a direct financial profit to the penny-pinching cruise industry.

Ironically, the Miami Herald today wrote an article styled Technology is About to Change the Future of Cruising which omitted any discussion about using existing technology to comply with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which required the implementation of such life-saving technology.

Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which will never respond to requests for information from us about disappearances of crew or passengers or other mishaps at sea.

Should you have any information about this disappearance, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

December 12, 2017 Update: Galveston Daily News Crew member missing from Vision of the Seas. A news station in Galveston reported that the missing crew member was a pool attendant from Mauritius (video below).

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

http://abc13.com/video/embed/?pid=2774231

Several crew members from the Vision of the Seas notified me that earlier this morning the cruise ship was involved in the rescue of 45 or 46 migrants.

The crew of the Vision provided food and water to all of the migrants.  It then transported the migrants on a tender boat to a nearby Greek island, after which the Vision continued on to its port of call in Kusadasi, Turkey.

The crew members wish to remain anonymous.

Congratulations to the effort by the Vision crew!

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Vision of Seas Migrant Rescue

Vision of the SeasLocal 10 News in St. Petersburg reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passenger suffering from heart-attack-like symptoms in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Saturday.

The Vision of the Seas contacted the Coast Guard in St. Petersburg about a a 59-year-old man was who was in need of emergency medical assistance.

A Coast Guard surgeon recommended that the passenger be medevaced from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. 

A Coast Guard response boat from the Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg medevaced the man from the cruise ship.  

This medevac was one of at least five medevacs from cruise ships this weekend.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / ZipIt

CBS (Miami) reports today that  a Royal Caribbean cruise ship arrived back in Port Everglades this morning with an outbreak of norovirus on board

The cruise line has not responded to requests for information, but passengers aboard the Vision of the Seas complained about vomiting and diarrhea. Passengers said more than 200 passengers had to be quarantined due to the outbreak.

“It’s been a hell of an experience,” said passenger Johny Celaire, of the 11-day cruise.  The captain reportedly announced there had been an outbreak of the norovirus on board shortly after the cruise Vision of the Seas Norovirusship departed.

CBS reports that one cruise passenger, Joan Webber was not  quarantined even though her husband was ill.  She is concerned that other passengers infected with the virus will take taxi cabs to hotels and airports where others could be exposed.

“There are people flying out today that are going on an aircraft that have diarrhea so bad they don’t know how they are going to get back up to Canada,” Webber said. “I’m surprised we didn’t go and have the health department talk to us.”

CBS further reports that Celaire said Royal Caribbean’s customer service reps added insult to injury when they called to inquire about the situation.

“She said to me if you had washed your hands you’d be okay,” Celaire said. “I said, ‘How the hell do you know if I didn’t wash my hands?’”

Blaming the passengers is a common ploy by the cruise lines even though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that the most likely cause of norovirus outbreaks is contaminated food or water. 

 

 

 

 

 

The popular online community Cruise Critic reports today on a disturbing incident where a 59-year-old passenger attacked another passenger who had a service dog with him aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas on December 20th. 

The article is based primarily on comments by Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl" who posted:

"My heart goes out to our new found friend and his service dog Freedom. He was viciously attacked late at nite while getting a pizza in the Solarium. He was beaten because a man could not respect service dogs and felt Freedom should not be on board." (The photo to the right is not of Freedom).

Service Dog - Disabled - Cruise ShipAlthough Royal Caribbean confirmed the incident occurred, the cruise line disembarked the passenger in Antigua rather than detaining him to be arrested by the FBI when the cruise ship returned to port in Fort Lauderdale.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Critic that the attacker was disembarked for being in violation of the line’s "guest conduct policy."  

Royal Caribbean claims that it reported the assault and battery to local law enforcement in Antigua "as well as to the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Florida." Remarkably, there is no mention of a report to the FBI which has jurisdiction over crimes on the high seas involving U.S. citizens. The FBI can make an arrest where the victim and/or the assailant is a U.S. citizen. The failure of the cruise line to report the incident to the FBI violates the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

A spokesperson for cruise line said "ship crew would have detained the man had a law enforcement agency asked them to hold him, but no such request was received."  This statement begs the question why the FBI was not notified.

Royal Caribbean also characterized the victim as sustaining only "minor injuries and was treated in the ship’s medical facility."  But according to Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl," the man was transferred to a Fort Lauderdale hospital at the conclusion of the sailing to be checked for broken ribs and possible internal injuries.

Unfortunately, this is often the way that cruise lines handle shipboard crimes. If the incident had occurred say at the Dadeland Mall here in Miami, the local police would certainly make an arrest and the case would be prosecuted. But on the high seas, the cruise lines just dump the criminal off at the next port and wash their hands of the situation. Often they refuse to notify the FBI. Prosecutions are then virtually impossible.

 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean – a service dog is defined by Royal Caribbean as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability."