Monthly Archives: March 2016

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A lawsuit has been filed against Royal Caribbean by the mother of a child who nearly drowned in a pool on the Oasis of the Seas.


The lawsuit has been filed by Valentina Azzia and she is demanding that cruise lines employ lifeguards at children’s pools on board cruise ships.
In January 2015, the Azzia family was on a cruise from Italy to Port Everglades. They had only been on the ship for an hour when she lost sight of her 4 year old son, Ascanio. He was in the toddler pool but had made it to a nearby pool which was deeper. Ascanio was underwater for five minutes and was pulled out by passengers, not crew members. He did not have a pulse, but the passengers performed CPR. None the less he was in a coma in a critical condition for a week and currently has problems with his vision and potential long term issues with his health.
Azzia does not want the same thing to happen to others and is asking for all kid’s pools to have lifeguards. She accepts that parents are responsible for the safety of their children but maintains it is so easy to lose sight of them in a crowded pool on a cruise ship.
Only one cruise line, Disney Cruise Line, has lifeguards on their ships who they employed following a near drowning of a four year old in 2013. Royal Caribbean state they do not have lifeguards and they have no plans whatsoever to add them in the future.
Children drown or nearly drown all too often on cruise ships with at least five children drowned and four nearly drowned in cruise ship pools over the last three years. In December last year, an 8 year old boy drowned on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas and in May of the same year a 10 year old girl drowned on the Norwegian Gem.
In 2013, 6 year old Qwentyn Hunter of Orlando drowned in a Jacuzzi on the Carnival Victory and his family took legal action, but due the old law called Death on the High Seas Act, they could only sue for loss of income, for example if a family provider dies, and there is no compensation for pain or suffering. Maybe this is why cruise lines refuse to employ lifeguards to protect children, as their lives at sea are virtually worthless.

 

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On Saturday, March 19, a passenger cruising on the Carnival Triumph drowned when he was on shore in Cozumel, Mexico.

The Carnival Triumph was on a four night Western Caribbean cruise which left from Galveston, Texas on March 17.  The only port of call was Cozumel.
United States citizen, John Douglas Herberger, aged 56 was at the Sky Reef Beach Club which is located on the south side of the island
According to his wife, 56 year old Teresa Herberger, her husband was suffering from respiratory problems and at around 12.30 p.m. he went for a swim, taking no notice of his breathing difficulties.  He did not return from his swim and a Beach Club employee, Angel Pool went to look for him and saw his body floating behind a buoy. He ran into the sea and pulled Herberger from the water and the local emergency services were called.
Paramedics and Public Safety arrived, and discovered Herberger had no vital signs and CPR was unsuccessful. His body was taken to the Forensic Medical Services for an autopsy from where it will be transported back to the United States.
All too often cruise ship passengers drown when they go ashore to the beach at the various ports of call. Although the sea can seem all too inviting, there are often strong currents which can pull swimmers under the water or out to sea, and it is especially dangerous for those who are not in good physical condition. Swimmers should always stay within their depth and not stray too far from the shore and any relatives on the shore should keep a close eye on any family members in the water.

 

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An inquest in Winchester, England has heard from the mother of a man who fell to his death from a cruise ship in October last year.


Shane Searle, a 42 year old was last seen on board the P&O cruise ship Ventura on October 10, 2015 as it sailed past the Isle of Wight shortly before docking in its home port in Southampton. The ship was returning from a Mediterranean cruise and Searle was last seen in the early hours of the morning before it was realized that he had fallen overboard.
The ship turned around and a major search was initiated by a variety of search and rescue vessels and helicopters. His body was eventually found on November 4 near Weymouth in Dorset on the south west coast of England and was identified using DNA.
His mother, Valerie Passmore, explained to the inquest that she had taken her son on the cruise for a birthday gift but that he had around 10 years of mental health problems and in the days preceding his death he had talked of jumping off the ship and going to heaven. He asked her to go with him and she told him it was not his time, to which he replied that whoever arrived in heaven first could wait for the other.
 He had visited the ship’s doctor twice while on board suffering from anxiety and insomnia and he told the doctor that he thought he was dying. Unfortunately the doctor did not realize the seriousness of his mental condition.
The coroner delivered a verdict that on the balance of probabilities he committed suicide while suffering from a severe mental illness but he added that the evidence did not support this beyond reasonable doubt.

 

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Thousands of cruise ship passengers will be disappointed as they will shortly receive notice from Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas that not only one sailing has been cancelled, but six.
The sailing on March 30 has been cancelled together with the following five planned departures in April up to and including April 21.


The reason for the cancellations is that the ship is currently in dry dock undergoing renovations and apparently it will not be ready in time for the scheduled sailings. The thousands of passengers involved have two choices, the first being to move to a later sailing of the Empress of the Seas, between April 25 and July 23 this year, in the same category of cabin and assuming they can change their vacation plans. The second option is to change ships to the Majesty of the Seas, between now and April 29, again with no upgrade, and for the same fare. Those who do rebook will have a $100 on board credit per cabin.
Obviously many passengers who have already booked their cruise and have to change dates will have already pre-booked their air, and those who did that through Royal Caribbean will be changed to the relevant flights at no charge. However those who booked their air themselves will be given up to $200 each for changing a domestic flight and $300 each if the flight is international. In order to receive this, the passengers have to change the fights themselves and then send a copy of the additional fee to Royal Caribbean and wait for the refund.
For those passengers who do not want to rebook, a full refund is available.
Empress of the Seas has been part of Pullmantur Cruises since 2008, also owned by Royal Caribbean and is transferring to be under the Royal Caribbean brand. While in dry dock the polls and hot tubs are being refitted and a rock climbing wall is being added.  

 

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A lawsuit has been filed against Disney Cruise Line by a man whose thumb was severed by his cabin door.


Grandfather Marco Fidel Castro of Columbia was a passenger on a Disney cruise ship in April last year which left from Miami on a Caribbean cruise. He and his family were changing for the Captain’s dinner one night and as he was getting ready to leave for dinner he stood in the hallway outside his cabin waiting for his wife. He had his hand on the door frame and his wife was holding the door open with her foot as all Disney cabin doors close automatically and do not stay open on their own. She moved her foot and the door slammed onto his thumb with such force it was completely severed. He collected his thumb and went to the on board medical center where a nurse bandaged the wound and put the thumb in some ice in the hope of having it potentially reattached.
However, when the ship arrived at the next port, there was no specialist available who could reattach his thumb and it was not until he arrived in Puerto Rico some two days later that the relevant specialist could be seen. Unfortunately by then it was too late to reattach the thumb.
The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of Disney, in terms of the medical care provided and the cabin door. It highlights Disney’s failure to ensure the cabin doors were safe, failure to warn passengers of the dangers of the doors, and failure to have a safety device on the hinges to prevent accidents like this occurring.
Castro is asking for unspecified damages for medical care and other costs.

 

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The nation of Belize, located on the Caribbean Ocean on the east coast of Central America is a favorite port of call for cruise ships, but it is becoming increasingly dangerous for cruise ship passengers.


Recently a couple who were passengers on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas was robbed at gun point when they were ashore. They had walked only ten minutes from the ship when it docked at the Tourism Village and had eaten lunch and were returning back on board. A man threatened them with a rifle and told the lady to hand over her bag. The man was hit over the head with the rifle and the lady was also bruised and scratched. Luckily someone scared the man off and they were both taken to hospital so that the man could have stitches in his head. There was no sign of police when the incident happened.
A couple of days prior to this a group of six passengers were robbed again at gun point in the popular attraction of Altun Ha Maya ruins. Once again there were no police present at the site which is always full of cruise ship passengers.
The authorities in Belize continue to maintain that there is sufficient security in the area where the visiting cruise ship passengers are, but this is obviously not the case.
Belize is becoming increasingly dangerous for local expatriates as well as cruise ship passengers and tourists. So far this year an American tourist from Chicago was murdered on holiday in western Belize and a Canadian filmmaker was stabbed to death in his Belize home.
According to statistics, Belize has a murder rate of 44.7 per 100,000 which is around ten times higher than the United States which had a rate of 4.5 per 100,000 people. Those cruise passengers who wish to go ashore in Belize should be extremely careful and not take any valuables with them.

 

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On Friday, March 11 a crew member from Norwegian Cruise Line was sent to prison for 10 years.


The St. Vincent and the Grenadines national, 23-year-old Desrick Gordon, was sentenced for his part in a drug smuggling ring from Roatan in Honduras to Tampa, Florida.
The charge was conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilos or more of cocaine and he was found guilty by a jury in mid December last year. The recommended sentence was 10 years to life and in addition the judge ordered him to hand over the proceeds of the drug sale which were just over $53,000.
Gordon and five other crew members from the Norwegian Sun were arrested last April when the ship docked in Tampa. They were followed as they left the ship and went to a local restaurant where they met and handed over the 7.5 kilograms of cocaine to local traffickers. The other arrested crew members, Jason Carmichael, Teffan Delice, Johnson Cherubin, Alfred Ince, and Arkine John, had already pleaded guilty to the charge.
At the trial it was revealed that there was a drug network based in Honduras which transported cocaine using crew members, who picked it up in Roatan and delivered it to Florida. Once in Tampa the crew members handed it over to local traffickers, linked to the Honduran network, who were also arrested.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

 

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A cruise ship passenger has been taken off a cruise ship suffering from the mosquito borne Zika virus.


The man, who has not been identified, was 81 years old and was on a cruise ship in the South Pacific. He had been in good health before the cruise but became feverish and then went into a coma.
He was taken off the ship and admitted to an intensive care unit when found to be suffering from meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain which causes the brain to swell. In addition, further blood tests revealed he also had the Zika virus.
Following 17 days in intensive care he was taken into a regular room and another 21 days later he was fully recovered.
It is currently thought that the virus can lead to microcephaly which is a birth defect causing babies to have small heads as well as underdeveloped brains and in addition it is thought Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome which leads to  paralysis and can be fatal. Now it appears there may be yet another side effect of the virus.
Although one in five people who contract Zika virus, do not have any symptoms, those women who are pregnant can be at risk of transmitting the virus to a fetus with severe consequences. The World Health Organization has said that there is still no definitive proof that the virus causes neurological disorders but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women not to travel to areas where the virus is present. The CDC goes on to say that if a pregnant woman has to travel to these areas, which include over 33 countries in South America and the Caribbean, they should be careful to avoid mosquito bites and not have unprotected sex with a partner who may have the virus as it is now known it can be transmitted that way.

 

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Several cruise lines announced that this month they would begin historic cruises to Cuba from the United States for the first time in around 50 years, but it appears that will not be happening, leaving thousands of passengers disappointed.


Pearl Seas Cruises, one of the smaller cruise lines had two cruises scheduled from Fort Lauderdale on the Pearl Mist with 210 passengers each time. They have notified their passengers that the sailing on March 6 and March 16 have been cancelled and are still not able to confirm whether the subsequent cruises, with four more scheduled, will depart or not.
Passengers have been given the option to transfer to another cruise or to receive a full refund.
It appears that the hiccup is due to the delay of the Cuban government in granting approval for the cruises. The meeting was scheduled to be on March 10, but apparently it has been delayed until after President Obama has visited the country which due to be on March 21 and 22. However, it is not known how soon after the visit, the permission will be granted.
The Pearl Cruises trip was due to visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba leaving and returning from Fort Lauderdale. It had the required cultural and humanitarian elements to allow American passengers to qualify for the trip.
Carnival Cruises has a scheduled trip to Cuba from Miami in July with its social impact line, Fathom, but they still do not have approval from Cuba and the one cruise line which did have approval, Haimark Line, which would leave from Florida, has gone bankrupt.

 

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