Cruise ships may seem like floating hotels, but passengers face some risks they never would on land, even in calm seas. There have been five man overboard incidents involving cruise ship crew and passengers so far this year, most recently involving a Florida man on the Carnival Victory cruise ship.
This past March, after the barrage of cruise ship accidents and mishaps which most notably began with the tragic capsizing of COSTA CONCORDIA at Giglio, Italy, the cruise ship industry was called on by at least one U.S. government official to create a Bill of Rights for cruise ship passengers. Last week, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) did just that with the publication of the Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights.
On May 8, just before 9:00 p.m. local time, two people went overboard of CARNIVAL SPIRIT, which was just completing a ten-day trip with approximately 185 miles to go until reaching port in Sydney. The on-board closed circuit videos show one of the couple going over first, with the second person following moments afterward. So far, authorities have not been able to ascertain the details of the circumstances; there are no known witnesses. No flotation devices were counted missing and foul play is not suspected.
CARNIVAL TRIUMPH continues to have more than her share of woes. You may recall how, back on February 10, as CARNIVAL TRIUMPH was sailing about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula, an engine room fire took out her electrical power. Fortunately, the fire itself was put out fairly quickly, but CARNIVAL TRIUMPH was first adrift and then under tow for days before being towed to Mobile, Alabama, all the while with 3,800 passengers and crew on board. During that time, the emergency power generator proved inadequate to the needs of all those people, resulting in significant hygiene and general health issues.
CARNIVAL TRIUMPH, an 893-foot cruise ship with a 3858 passengers and crew capacity, went adrift about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula on February 10 after a fire in the engine room disabled the power supply; the ship thus lost propulsion. Fortunately, the fire was extinguished quickly by an automatic fire extinguishing system, and no one was reported injured.
The U.S. Coast Guard, joined by the National Transportation Safety Board, will take part in the Italian investigation of the January 13 grounding of COSTA CONCORDIA. Joining non-U.S. investigations abroad is not unusual for the USCG; they also have a role with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) addressing global ecological, security, and safety issues.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenbaum ruled that lawsuits brought by Italian business owners in regard to damages caused by the wreck of COSTA CONCORDIA will not be heard in the U.S., where the business owners tried to bring action. Likely, any of their cases will be heard in Italy. (COSTA CONCORDIA is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, which is based in Florida. Costa Crociere, based in Genoa, Italy, is a subsidiary of Carnival.)
On March 10, cruise ship STAR PRINCESS passed within range of three stranded Panamanian fishermen, one of whom was seen to be waving a red cloth up and down by passengers aboard STAR PRINCESS. Yet, there was no rescue that day, and over two weeks later, on March 24, only one of the three fishermen were found alive near the Galapagos Islands by another fishing vessel.
After a fire in the electric generator room took out electric power to Costa Crociere's COSTA ALLEGRA on February 27, passengers spent three days on board without many basic comforts and amenities while the cruise ship was towed to Port Victoria on Mahe Island in the Seychelles. Once in port, the passengers were given a choice to either stay at various Seychelles resorts for Costa Crociere-paid one- or two-week vacation, or for Costa Crociere to fly directly them back to their homes. Most passengers chose to continue their vacations in the Seychelles.