Tag-Archive for » Rescue at sea «

The Message In A Cruise Ship Rescue

Sometimes, you know, it only matters that somebody needs help. It doesn't matter that they are Cubans, desperately trying to escape and to enter the U.S. illegally. They are, first and foremost, human beings.

This is what happened last week. The Carnival Paradise was in the Caribbean Sea. So was a boatload of Cubans…24 of them. It was a small boat, which means its capacity was probably less than 24. It was listing, with water in the bottom. It had been at sea for five days. It was in distress, or disabled. 

These were human beings who needed help.

The captain of the Paradise maneuvered his big ship close enough to shield the small craft from the waves. Then his crew dropped a platform, ropes and life Carnival Paradisejackets. All 24 were brought on board. This was not the first time Cubans afloat on the sea have been rescued by a passing cruise ship, and it will surely not be the last.

On the Paradise there was, according to a CNN eyewitness from Paris — Matthew Sudders, some uncertainty among the ship's 2,000-odd passengers. They were uncertain about their safety. Let's see…2,000 of "us" and 24 of "them." Most of the passengers just cheered.

The rescued were cleared through security, of course, and given food and clothes and a place to sleep until the ship eventually made its way to Tampa. Their fate would be decided there. The legalities could wait. For 24 people afloat on a disabled boat in the Caribbean Sea, only one thing mattered.

Paradise found.

Photo credit: Beau Hudspeth

Holland America Zaandam
7 nights
July 25, 2014
Vancouver (return): JuneauSkagwayTracy ArmKetchikan
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99

Blankets of Gratitude All Around Cunard

One of the feel-good cruise stories in 2013 was the tale of the woman who was in trouble rowing her boat across the Atlantic Ocean. Some of us would think that's an oxymoron…because being in the middle of the ocean in a rowboat would be trouble, period.

The young woman, a French-Canadian named Mylene Paquette, was caught in a storm that was anything but perfect. By the time the rain stopped and the winds Cunard-Paquette-2passed, her anchor and her satellite phone and four of her eight oars were all gone and — since there was no shipping supply store in the neighborhood, or even a Best Buy — she was in big trouble, or close to it.

Cunard came to the rescue. The Queen Mary 2 was in the neighborhood and donated two drogue anchors and a satellite phone, along with a list of food and drink to help her complete the 130-day journey from Canada to France. Mylene had asked for a blanket (maybe she forgot hers at home) but Cunard officials couldn't fit one into the package they lowered.

This month, she received her blanket…just in time for Christmas.

Cunard-PaquetteIn what was a photo-op for Cunard and a thank-you opportunity for her, Mylene met the captain of the Queen Mary 2, Captain Kevin Oprey. With the assistance of his ship, she'd been able to complete her journey more or less on time, in November. This month, she was in Southampton and since Captain Oprey and his ship were, too, they met under drier conditions.

And he gave her the "missing" blanket.

"This blanket represents the goodwill and spirit of kinship which helped me achieve my dream," she told him.

Her dream was to be the first North American woman to row solo across the Atlantic. She is also the first to do so with help from another "female"…Queen Mary 2.

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
January 11, 2014
Jacksonville (return): Key WestNassau 
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $37

The Ups and Downs of Cruise Ships

Last week, there were countless reports about a young couple who fell (or jumped) from a cruise ship in waters near Australia. In the days that followed, there were no reports that the two people were found, and they were presumed to have drowned.

Every story mentioned they were in a Carnival ship, which is fine, and that Carnival has been "plagued by a series of issues"…or words to that effect, as if the cruise line was somehow responsible because two people disappeared.

On the weekend, two men on a disabled sailboat were rescued in the Atlantic Ocean miles from Bermuda and taken on board a cruise ship that was 35 miles away from the sailboat. The ship diverted from its course to make the night-time rescue and was taking the survivors to its next port, the Azores.

The ship was the Nieuw Amsterdam. It belongs to Holland America, which is owned by the world's biggest cruise corporation. It's called Carnival.

In one case, two people disappear and a cruise ship is implicated, by innuendo. In the other case, two people are rescued at sea. Now be honest…if we hadn't told you, what are the chances you would have even known about the rescue?

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
July 7, 2013
Rome (return): Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $81

Big Rescue for a Smallish Ship

This is just a nice story, in a world that sometimes doesn't have enough of them…

A sailboat off the coast of Croatia was in trouble. Its sails were ripped, its engines weren't working and high winds had created swells large enough that the boat was in danger of capsizing.

On board were seven passengers. They fired two red distress flares. Vessels in the area tried to respond, most of them vessels small enough that their attempts to help were in desperation. The first vessel to respond was the Wind Surf, the world's and Windstar Cruises' largest sailing ship but still about one-sixth the size of most ocean-going cruise ships that carry 10 times as many people.

The Wind Surf carries 312. It has six decks and gross tonnage of 14,745 (the average-sized Celebrity Millennium's gross tonnage, as an example, is 91,000). The Wind Surf is 535 feet long at the waterline and is powered by seven sails and six electric engines. So while it's the biggest sailing ship in the world, it's still small in rough seas.

In response to the disabled boat, Wind Surf captain Alan MacAry changed direction and launched a rescue boat carrying two officers and two sailors. But the rescue boat couldn't get alongside the small craft in nine-foot seas. The Wind Surf was able to provide enough protection by blocking the wind that the crew on the sailboat were able to repair the sails enough to gain some measure of control.

By the time the Croatian Coast Guard arrived, the sailboat was headed for land and the Wind Surf was headed back to its next port.

Nobody drowned, so the rescue story didn't get much attention. If Captain MacAry hadn't reacted the way he did, it probably would have become a bigger story…and seven sailboat passengers wouldn't have been as grateful as they are.

Celebrity Equinox
14 nights
November 26, 2012
Rome, Florence, Toulon, Barcelona, Cartagena, Funchal, Fort Lauderdale
Inside:  $599
Cost per day: $42

Failed Rescue Charge Likely False


You may have heard news reports about a cruise ship that allegedly failed to respond to a small boat that was adrift in the Pacific Ocean a few months ago. A fisherman and one of his passengers on the small craft died and Princess Cruises was criticized — and subsequently sued by survivor Adrian Vasquez and the victims' families — for not coming to the fisherman's rescue.

Yesterday, Princess claims it has been cleared…and you can be relatively certain the expected exoneration will not get the same exposure. But maybe we're wrong, so watch for it.

The story began when three passengers on the Star Princess reported seeing a boat that they thought might be in distress. Crew on the bridge checked it out, decided the boat was not in distress and kept going.

After exhaustive research, Princess has discovered that the "boat in distress" was not the fisherman's boat.

How so?

The passengers were bird watchers. They had sophisticated cameras and took photos of the "distressed" boat. Later, when the boat — called the Fifty Cent — was eventually found, there was video footage of the belated rescue. Princess had the photos and the video, which was recently discovered, analyzed by a photo expert who used to work for NASA.

You can see the differences in the photos here, but there are more on the Princess website, so you can make your own call. There is also inconsistencies in recorded statements by Mr. Vasquez, and some rather complicated evidence from a meteorological firm that the two vessels were not likely in position for the fishing boat to be seen from the Star Princess. Naturally, Princess is now insisting the legal proceedings be dropped and is offering, out of respect for the victims, to waive its right to recover legal costs.

For video: http://youtube/vcdw. For more photos: http://www.princess.com/news/images.

From the time we first heard of this, it struck us as being strange. We have been on a cruise ship that was used for rescue operations (in the middle of the night, so we didn't see anything but a late arrival), and we have interviewed captains about rescue operations. It was hard to believe that Star Princess captain Edward Perrin, or any cruise-ship captain, would not respond to a small boat in trouble. It's not only the right thing to do, but it's a delay that is unlikely to bring complaints from passengers about being late.

Since the alleged sighting of the boat, in March, both Captain Perrin and Princess have been taking an unwarranted beating in public. The same captain last month was praised by Canadian authorities for positioning his ships to block the wind for rescuers who rescued two sailors in stormy seas off the coast of British Columbia. Not only was that the right thing to do, but it must have shown some creativity.

The premature judgment of the captain and his cruise line was, in the end, jumping to conclusion…giving a whole new meaning to "jumping ship."

Cunard Queen Mary 2
7 nights
November 20, 2012
London, New York
Inside: $695
Cost per day: $99

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