Cruise Ship Attacks, Outbreaks & Scares

Title: Somali Pirate Threat Forces Cruise Ship Evacuation 
Date: December 9, 2008
Source: Fox News 

Abstract: A cruise ship will evacuate passengers before sailing past the Somali coast and fly them to the next port of call to protect them from possible pirate attacks, German cruise operator Hapag-Lloyd said Tuesday.

An official with the European Union's anti-piracy mission said separately that it would station armed guards on vulnerable cargo ships — the first such deployment of military personnel during the international anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

The MS Columbus cruise ship will drop off its 246 passengers Wednesday at the Yemeni port of Hodeidah before the ship and some of its crew sail through the Gulf, the Hamburg-based cruise company said in a statement.

The passengers will take a charter flight to Dubai and spend three days at a five-star hotel waiting to rejoin the 490-foot vessel in the southern Oman port of Salalah for the remainder of a round-the-world tour that began in Italy.

Hapag-Lloyd said the detour was a "precautionary measure," given rampant piracy off the coast of lawless Somalia that recently has targeted cruise ships as well as commercial vessels, including a Saudi oil tanker carrying $100 million in crude and a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weapons.

Pirates last week fired upon the M/S Nautica — a cruise liner carrying 650 passengers and 400 crew members — but the massive ship outran its assailants. Other ships have not been so lucky. Pirates have attacked 32 vessels and hijacked 12 of them since NATO deployed a four-vessel flotilla on Oct. 24 to escort cargo ships and conduct anti-piracy patrols.

The Hapag-Lloyd cruise company planned the detour for its passengers in order to heed a German Foreign Ministry travel warning, after the German government denied the cruise company's request for a security escort through the Gulf, company spokesman Rainer Mueller said. As long as the travel warning is in effect, he said, "we won't travel through the Gulf of Aden with passengers."

A U.S. Navy official said, however, that while the danger of a pirate attack was significant, it was not advising ships to avoid transiting the Gulf.

"We are advising all ships to transit through the international traffic corridor within the Gulf of Aden," said Lt. Nathan Christensen,  a Bahrain-based spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, referring to a security corridor patrolled by the international coalition since August.

Some 21,000 cargo ships a year — or more than 50 a day — cross the Gulf of Aden, which links the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, international agencies have said. The growing chaos in impoverished Somalia, which has had no effective government for nearly two decades, has allowed an Islamic insurgency to flourish in the country while speedboat bandits attack ships offshore.

The EU launched its anti-piracy mission five days early on Tuesday, before it takes over for the NATO ships next Monday. The EU mission will involve six ships and up to three aircraft patrolling at any one time, and will station armed guards aboard the most vulnerable cargo vessels, such as ships transporting food aid to Somalia, according to the British naval commander in charge of the mission.

"We would seek to place vessel protect detachments on board World Food Program ships transiting to Somalia," British Rear Admiral Philip Jones told a news conference in Brussels. "They are the most vulnerable ships of all, and the best deterrence is achieved by having such a detachment on board."

The NATO anti-piracy mission has also focused on escorting the U.N. aid agency's chartered vessels, helping some 30,000 tons of humanitarian aid reach Somalia since Oct. 24.

In addition, about a dozen other warships from the U.S. 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, as well as from India, Russia and Malaysia and other nations are patrolling in the area.

The Russian navy will soon replace its warship in the region with another from a different fleet, navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo  said Tuesday in Moscow.

The missile frigate Neustrashimy, or Intrepid — deployed from Russia's Northern Fleet after pirates seized the Ukrainian ship in September — has helped thwart at least two pirate attacks, Dygalo said. It will remain in the region through December and be replaced by a ship from Russia's Pacific Fleet.

Jones welcomed an offer from Japan to contribute a vessel to the one-year EU mission. It is the European Union's first naval endeavor, though the bloc has conducted 20 peacekeeping operations.

Britain, France, Greece, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands will contribute at least 10 warships and three aircraft, with contingents rotated every three months (Fox News, 2008).

Title: Suspicious Cargo Container Disrupts Traffic At LA Port
Date: December 22, 2011

Abstract: Cargo traffic at the Port of Los Angeles was disrupted on Wednesday after longshoremen discovered a shipping container with the word "bomb" painted on the outside, a spokesman for the facility said.

Dock workers at the nation's busiest container port reported coming across the suspicious cargo bin as it was being unloaded from a ship on Wednesday afternoon, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. Roughly 10 percent of the port was forced to close as the area was cordoned off and a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad, bomb-sniffing dogs and other agencies arrived to investigate the container, Sanfield said.

The loading and unloading of two vessels was temporarily halted at one of the port's eight container terminals, and the crew of the ship that had carried the spray-painted cargo bin was evacuated as a precaution, he added.

Shortly after 9 p.m. local time, authorities at the scene reported that no suspicious material was found inside the container, Sanfield said in an email message.

"We see all sorts of cargo that's inspected and odd things," Sanfield said, but "it's unusual to have that sort of graffiti on a container at the port." He said the word "bomb" had appeared in spray-painted lettering in a "couple" places on the container.

Police spokesman Cleon Joseph said no threat was received by the port in connection with the incident.

Sanfield said the container in question had arrived on a Singapore-flagged vessel that originated in Vietnam and stopped over in Oakland, California, en route to Los Angeles (WNEP News, 2011)

Title: MSC Poesia Destroys Reef In The Bahamas - Cruise Ship With 26' Draft Sailed Into 15' Waters
Date: January 9, 2012
Cruise Law News

Abstract: The MSC Poesia cruise ship ran aground into a reef in the Bahamas this weekend while sailing to  Port Lucaya near Freeport, Bahamas.

The 93,000-ton cruise ship needs twenty-five feet of draft but sailed into only fifteen (15) feet of water.  The video below show that the vessel ground into and destroyed a substantial length of the fragile reef.

Several tugs were called to prevent the cruise ship from further grinding into the reef as the wind tried to push the vessel into more shallow water. 

MSC was not able to get off the reef until high tide.  According to Cruise Radio where I first learned of the grounding, the incident did not stop the cruise ship from tendering cruise passengers to Port Lucaya.  Ed Owen who writes for the Examiner also was one of the first to report on this incident  (Cruise Law News, 2012).

Title: SC Man Dies On Carnival Cruise Ship
January 30, 2012

A Carnival cruise ship will return to Charleston on Monday after leaving the Bahamas after a South Carolina passenger died on board.

Police in the Bahamas said the 26-year-old died when he apparently jumped from one floor to another on Friday.

The man’s name and hometown have not been released
(WSOC TV, 2012).

Title: French Tugboat Reaches Italian Cruise Ship Adrift In Pirate-Infested Indian Ocean After Fire
February 28, 2012
Fox News

A French fishing vessel on Tuesday began towing an Italian cruise ship drifting powerless in the Indian Ocean to a nearby Seychelles island, but was not expected to reach the tiny resort island until Wednesday, officials said.

Seychelles authorities said they are making arrangements to evacuate people to the island of Desroches and then to transfer the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members to the main Seychelles island of Mahe by plane and fast boats. Desroches is a small, exclusive coral-lined island that has seen such visitors as Prince William and Kate Middleton before the two married.

The Costa Allegra lost power Monday after a fire in its generator room only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef and capsized off Italy. No one was injured in the fire Monday, but the blaze set the cruiseliner adrift at sea in a region where Somali pirates prey on ships.

Two tug boats continued to steam toward the stranded cruise ship on Tuesday but were not expected to reach it until the afternoon. The tugs will tow the Costa Allegra back to the Seychelles' main port -- Port Victoria -- under escort by the coast guard and military.

The cruise ship company said that a helicopter took off from Seychelles' main island on Tuesday and will take food, satellite phones and VHF radios to the ship. Guests have been asked to prepare their luggage for disembarkation.

Photos released by the Seychelles on Tuesday showed hundreds of people milling outside on the decks of the Costa Allegra. Taken by an Indian navy plane, the photos showed calm seas and an upright ship.

The Costa Allegra has 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board. The fire knocked out power to the ship's engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.

The power burnout came six weeks after the Costa Concordia capsized, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.

However, company officials rushed to play down concerns.

The Costa Allegra is adrift "and being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright," Giorgio Moretti, the director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere SpA, told reporters in a conference call late Monday from company headquarters in Genoa, Italy.

Costa Crociere said the Costa Allegra is not expected to arrive to Desroches island until Wednesday morning

"It's a big ship and to tow it, to move it across the waters, is a heavy task," said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic. She said that everything is calm on board the cruise ship and that no one is hurt.

Italian Coast Guard officials said emergency generators were keeping the ship's control room illuminated and communications equipment such as radios running. Officials said the cruise liner was holding steady, despite 5-foot waves in the area and passengers were being kept in the ship's big communal rooms, not in their cabins.

Moretti, a longtime Costa captain, said he expected the 636 passengers aboard would spend the night on outside decks. Among them were 212 Italian, 31 British and eight U.S. passengers, he said. Four of the passengers were children ages 3 or younger.

The Allegra, whose Italian name means "merry," or "happy," had left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward Port Victoria when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Port Victoria on Tuesday.

The general region where the cruise ship was adrift -- off the coast of Tanzania -- has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates. In 2009, an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people aboard fended off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Somalia.

Moretti said an armed nine-member Italian military team on anti-pirate duty was aboard the Allegra, but he insisted the maritime region where the ship was now "isn't a high risk area for pirates."

"If pirates attack, the armed guards on board will respond. But as far as I am aware, no pirates have been sighted in the area," said Janosevic.

Moretti said 15 Costa engineers, technicians and other officials were flying to Mahe in hope of reaching the Allegra by air to repair its generators (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Power Restored To Cruise Ship Hit By Engine Fire Off Indonesia
March 31, 2012

Engineers have restored propulsion power to a cruise ship carrying about 1,000 people after it was left adrift off Indonesia by an engine fire, cruise company Azamara Club Cruises said.

The ship is now sailing directly to Sandakan, in Malaysia, at a speed of between three and six knots and is expected to arrive within 24 to 48 hours, the company said.

The Philippines Navy said it had sent a patrol boat which is accompanying the cruise ship.

All of the nearly 600 passengers on board the Azamara Quest are safe but five crew members suffered smoke inhalation during the fire, the company said in an online statement.

One crew member who was more seriously injured is doing better but will be taken to a hospital as soon as the ship reaches shore, it said.

"The damage caused by the fire will require us to cancel the rest of Azamara Quest's voyage once the ship arrives in Sandakan," it said.

As of Saturday morning local time, the ship was located 200 miles off the port city of Balikpapan, on the Indonesian island of Borneo, in calm seas, the company said.

The fire broke out at about 8:20 p.m. local time in one of the ship's engine rooms, where it was contained and quickly extinguished, the company said.

Power was restored to one of the engines late Friday, allowing the ship to restart its air conditioning, running water, plumbing and refrigeration, Azamara Club Cruises said.

The fire broke out after the Azamara Quest had set sail from Manila, in the Philippines, Officer Francis Wong, chief of communications for the Philippines Navy, told CNN.

The ship's captain reported the fire to the Philippine naval authorities, who sent a Cessna aircraft and two patrol gun boats to the cruise ship in response, he said.

As of noon Friday Philippine time the fire was under control, he said.

"When we left the ship was safe and close to Palawan," he said, referring to an island province in the Philippines.

The Azamara Quest was on a 17-night sailing voyage that departed Hong Kong, China, on March 26, and was due to include port calls in the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia before concluding in Singapore on April 12.

Anyone booked on the Azamara Quest for a cruise starting April 12 is advised by Azamara Club Cruises to check the company's website on Monday for an update.

Azamara Club Cruises, which operates two cruise liners, is part of the giant Royal Caribbean Cruises group (CNN, 2012).

Title: Royal Caribbean Ship Damaged After Hitting Cable In Europe
Date: September 6, 2012
USA Today

Abstract: A Royal Caribbean ship visiting the Faroe Islands today hit an overhead cable strung between two islands in an incident that left one crew member injured and the ship's mast damaged.

Royal Caribbean says the 2,110-passenger Jewel of the Seas remains seaworthy and has continued on with its trip, a 16-night sailing from Harwich, England to Boston.

"While the ship did sustain some damage to equipment located on the mast, as well as to the mast itself, this in no way affects the seaworthiness of the ship," the line says in a statement. "Local officials responded to Jewel of the Seas, and after inspecting the damage to the ship concluded that the ship can safely sail."

Royal Caribbean says the injured crew member was hit by falling debris and was transferred to a Faroe Island hospital after being initially treated onboard.

The line says it doesn't know why the ship hit the cable, which extends between the Faroe's Bordoy and Eysturoy Islands and is high in the air.

"All the navigational tools and charts we use to plan our voyage, including information we obtained from the local port authorities and harbor master in advance of our arrival, indicated we had enough clearance to pass under the cable," the line says. "We are working closely with the local authorities to determine why this incident occurred."

Jewel of the Seas was pulling into the Faroe Islands town of Klaksvik at the time of the incident.

Located north of Scotland between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, the Faroe Islands is a self-governing nation under the sovereignty of Denmark.

Jewel of the Seas departed Harwich on Aug. 31 and will be stopping in Iceland and Newfoundland, Canada before arriving in Boston on Sept. 16 (USA Today, 2012)

Title: Dawn Princess Norovirus Outbreak Investigation Update
Date: September 9, 2012
Global Dispatch

Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an outbreak update last week concerning the Princess Cruises Dawn Princess norovirus outbreak.

According to the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program Update, the investigation involves Dawn Princess cruise ship voyage dates were from August 21 to September 13, 2012.

Of the 1,778 passenger on board the ship, 114 were stricken with the symptoms of norovirus infection. In addition, of the 851 crew aboard the ship, 11 displayed symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Princess Cruises have reportedly increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan.

In addition, the following other actions have been taken:

  • Made announcements to notify onboard passengers of the outbreak, encourage case reporting, and encourage hand hygiene,
  • Collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew, tested the specimens onboard using a rapid Norovirus test, and made plans to send them to the CDC lab,
  • Made twice daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP,
  • Has deployed a public health officer from the corporate office to supervise implementation of the ship’s response plan,
  • Is consulting with CDC on plans for their super sanitation procedures in Seward, AK.

The CDC reports that two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers will board the ship on arrival in Juneau, AK on September 7, 2012 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Stool specimens will be sent to the CDC lab for confirmatory testing and genome sequencing.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus of the same name. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States (Global Dispatch, 2012).

Title: Cruise Ship Damaged In Rough Crossing Of Bay Of Biscay
October 19, 2012
USA Today

A 3,100-passenger cruise ship was damaged this week during a rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay.

Passengers aboard P&O Cruises' Ventura posting at online forums say a crack at least two inches wide opened up high above the water line near the pool deck. A photo at one online forum shows a crack running vertically near the top of the vessel.

A spokesperson for the line contacted by USA TODAY did not respond to questions about the nature of the damage but sent a statement saying it is not structural.

"Repairs will be made to an aluminium deck on Ventura upon arrival in Southampton (UK) today. This has no structural strength or safety implications," the statement said.

The statement said Ventura will leave Southampton later today as planned for a two-night cruise (USA Today, 2012).

Title: Norovirus On Celebrity Cruises' Ship Constellation
November 6, 2012

A cruise ship delayed its departure from Southampton after a suspected outbreak of norovirus on board.

Celebrity Cruises' vessel Constellation arrived in the city's port at 06:00 GMT at the end of a 12-night cruise.

Southampton's Port Health Authority said about 350 passengers had fallen ill with the vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

Its departure was delayed until 20:00 while deep cleaning took place.

The authority's Rosie Zambra confirmed it was informed of "concerns over an increased levels of what appeared to be norovirus" several days before the ship's arrival.

'Bad sanitation'

About 2,200 and 900 crew had been on a wine cruise around the coasts of France and Spain.

A representative of the health authority has since been on board and verified the affected cabins and public areas had been deep cleaned.

Passenger David Mattey said his holiday had been "completely ruined" when he went down with severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

He said: "The sanitation on that ship is bad."

A statement from Celebrity Cruises said the crew was conducting "extra cleaning and sanitising on board the ship and within the cruise terminal as preventative measures."

It added its hygiene procedures on board were "comprehensive and always strictly adhered to" (BBC, 2012).

Title: Norovirus Outbreak Sickens 140 On Royal Caribbean's ‘Voyager Of The Seas’
November 23, 2012

Approximately 140 passengers and crew on board Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas developed gastrointestinal symptoms resembling norovirus upon returning from New Zealand to Sydney, according to a Royal Caribbean blog report Nov. 23.

According to the cruise line statement, those infected with the stomach bug responded well to over-the-counter medications administered on board the ship.

Cruise officials notified passengers today that they would begin cleaning and sanitizing guest rooms per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

Because of these events, big lines were formed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay, which stretched hundred of meters, frustrating passengers.

The Voyager of the Seas can hold 3,138 passengers and over 1,100 crew members.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis in people.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea (Examiner, 2012).