Tag-Archive for » Passenger safety «

DOT Webpage To Guide Cruisers 

You’re on a cruise and there’s a problem. It could be something relatively small, like a safety issue you spotted that needs reporting, or something big, like sexual assault. What do you do?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a webpage this week that, hopefully, will serve as a guide. It’s not just about when something goes awry on a cruise, but also a “one-stop resource on consumer assistance, vessel safety and cruise-line incident reporting statistics.”

In short, it gives you — the cruiser — a place to turn for assistance if you feel the cruise line is not satisfying your concerns. It includes what your rights are (or are not) if a cruise is canceled or if there’s an injury or death on a ship, what to do about safety concerns and how to find out about the frequency of incidents from scouring regular reports compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard.

For example, in the most recent three-month report, there were 10 incidents on five cruise lines: two suspicious deaths, three passenger injuries from assaults and five sexual assaults. These are cases “no longer under investigation” by the FBI.

If nothing else, it’s what one famous TV detective used to say regularly:

“Just the facts, ma’am.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Dancing With The Stars: At Sea

Emerald Princess
5 nights
November 29, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Nassau, Princess Cays
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39

Worried About Port Safety? Read This…

Because so many cruises go to tropical ports, that often includes going to places where poverty is more plentiful than prosperity, especially in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Safety is always a concern. Cruise passengers can be targets for theft…whether you're in a poor country or not. 

Time for 10 tips:

1. Don't wear jewelry when leaving the ship. This comes from people who did, and who had a necklace snatched from the neck in broad daylight.

2. Take only ID that's necessary. Cruise lines often announce that you must take your ship card and "photo ID" when going ashore. Rarely, if ever, have we been asked for photo ID when getting back on a ship. Having said that, if you're told you need photo ID, take it.

3. Take one credit card. Why would you need two?

4.  Write down all the information on the back of your credit card and leave it on the ship.

5. Survey your surroundings, and don't travel alone.

6. Substitute a cheap ring for your wedding ring. This assumes that your wedding ring is not cheap, and that you want to deliver the visual message that you're married.

7. Carry only a small amount of cash. You have a credit card  remember?

8. If you're carrying anything valuable, take a photo of it and leave it behind. Again, the voices of experience.

9. Don't carry a purse or wallet unless it's absolutely necessary.

10. Be cautious about anyone who wants to "help" you. Usually, there is an ulterior motive, sometimes as innocent as making a few bucks by showing you around, but sometimes worse.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: New competitor for international flights

Norwegian Breakaway
7 nights
September 8, 2014
New York (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $659
Cost per day: $94

Things That Aren't Going Well In Cruise Industry

There are two news items that continue to make the rounds this week which are not especially flattering to the cruise industry.


A Holland America ship, the Veendam, arrived back in Fort Lauderdale from a cruise with more than 100 passengers ill with norovirus. 

Comment: As we have long pointed out, this gastrointestinal sickness can happen wherever large groups of people assemble. It is not unique to the cruise business, which constantly has to re-assure worried passengers in advance. However, the perception is that you're more likely to contract norovirus on a cruise ship, out of context or not, and this is a problem for cruise lines. 


The trial regarding the Carnival Triumph is underway in Miami. While the judge ruled Carnival is liable for the fire on the ship, one of his other rulings is that cruise line did not breach its contract because "the contract ticket makes no express guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions."

Comment: Isn't it time for cruise lines to quit hiding such important facts in the fine print?

Holland America Ryndam
27 nights
April 6, 2014
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaMalagaCartagena, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca,  BarcelonaValencia, Alicante, Motril, GibralterCadizLisbon, La Coruna, Bilbao, Portland, London
Inside: $1,499
Cost per day: $55

The Triumph Fire That Refuses To Go Out


This week, CNN broadcast an investigation into the Carnival Triumph "tragedy" — the five days the disabled ship spent floating without power in the Gulf of Mexico, a cruise which has indelicately been labeled "the poop cruise." Don't expect to find that listed on any cruise ship itinerary.

Having read and heard much about this cruise over the last 10 months, there were two things that jumped off the TV screen at us, one of which we'll address today, and the other tomorrow.

In years of cruising and talking to cruise employees, specifically captains of the ships, the one subject that brings a sobering almost fearful look to their eyes is "fire." While there's a certain irony that fire is the greatest fear on a ship that's surrounded by water, it is by far the worst thing that can happen at sea, so you would think the people who maintain ships would go to the ends of the earth (or the horizons of the sea) to make sure there would never be a fire on a ship…as much as anybody can ever make sure.

Drew GriffinIn CNN's investigation, reporter Drew Griffin discovered (with the help of a Texas attorney), that the Triumph diesel generator where the fire began last February had been "overdue for maintenance" for more than a year, a fact stated time and again in Carnival's own documents. Also that the ship's technical condition was "out of compliance" with SOLAS standards (the acronym stands for Safety Of Life At Sea).

Fires can be accidents…even when faulty generators or fuel lines (also mentioned in CNN's investigative report) are the cause. In the case of the inappropriately-named "Triumph" it certainly appears that somebody at Carnival — a technician, a mechanic, an inspector, a manager or somebody up the food chain who counts the bean$ — dropped the ball.

Or the fire extinguisher.

Tomorrow: What's in your contract?

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
4 nights
February 6, 2014
Tampa (return): Cozumel
Inside: $364
Cost per day: $91

Carnival Safety Pinned On New Man

A former rear admiral from the U.S. Navy, Richard J. O'Hanlon, once commanded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

But can he bring an end to the jokes about Carnival Cruise Lines that are nuclear for the cruise business, and viral for everybody else?

For the last three years of his career, O'Hanlon was commander of the Naval Air Force Atlantic, the logistic and administrative command for all Naval Air Forces, overseeing a crew of 40,000 men and women.

But how is he going to be convince the cruise customer that accidents won't happen?

Richard O'Hanlon's most recent employment was as COO of Talon Air, a charter service with 25 corporate aircraft.

Now he is Carnival's CSO (Chief Safety Officer…the proper term is V-P, Nautical and Safety Operations) for the 24 ships that belong to the world's biggest cruise line.

The cruise corporation has turned to the respected ex-rear admiral — rear admirals always command respect — to repair its battered image when it comes to ship safety. He will specifically address things like bridge procedures, nautical operations and firefighting and life-saving systems.

If you don't think this appointment is important, you haven't been subjected to Carnival jokes for the better part of a year now. One of the corporation's ships (outside of the cruise line's 24) capsized off Italy and 32 people perished. Another caught fire off the coast of California, marooning passengers in deplorable conditions for days. The same thing happened to another in the Gulf of Mexico and, in part because the media was starting to see a trend, continues to make headlines — and punchlines — today.

The safety bucks stops here.

Presumably, rear admirals have thick skin and tough rules. For a cruise line that rightly or wrongly has become a safety subject of slapstick, it seems like a good move.

Star Princess
15 nights
December 5, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Hilo, Ensenada
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $84

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