It was reported that a cruise ship passenger onboard the Star Princess is still haunted by images from a recent cruise in March aboard the passenger cruise ship Star Princess, owned by Princess Cruise Lines. The haunted images obviously are not what this passenger expected when taking a cruise onboard the Star Princess. I am sure the passenger expected to come back with lots of images, but of pleasant and beautiful experiences during the cruise.
However, the image that is haunting Judy Meredith is her observing boaters that were in distress in a small fishing boat in the open waters off the Pacific Coast of Panama. Judy Meredith, along with other passengers, were looking for seabirds. What they spotted was frantic gestures coming from a small fishing boat that was adrift a couple of miles away. Despite the passengers' efforts to contact the United States Coast Guard through the internet service onboard the ship, and despite reporting the distressed boaters to a crewmember, the passengers are trying to figure out how this large cruise ship failed to initiate any rescue efforts. The Star Princess kept sailing and made no efforts to rescue the distressed boaters.
A commercial fishing vessel then spotted the distressed boat near the Galapagos Islands, but only one survivor was rescued, an 18-year-old named Adrian Vasquez who was alive after 28 days at sea. It was reported that his two friends had died, and sadly, one died only hours after the cruise ship passed.
The cruise ship passenger, Judy Meredith, stated it so well. She was quoted: "This has already been weeks now, and we're just sick about it. It's like you're in a car and you see somebody bleeding in a big car accident and somebody else driving the car won't stop. You see it, you're just haunted by it."
Princess Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, has issued a statement blaming a "breakdown in communication in relaying the passenger's concern." Princess is taking the position that the bridge was not notified by the crewmember the passenger reported to. Princess said that the captain, Captain Edward Perrin, and the officer on watch, would definitely have taken action if they had been properly notified. Princess stated it has "deep regrets" about the two men who died.
As stated, Princess is owned by Miami based Carnival Corporation, the same company that owns Costa Cruises. This is another in a string of problems that have struck the company in recent times. Will this result in a crumbling of the Carnival empire? MOST LIKELY, NOT.
It's important to note that international law requires that the cruise ship company attempt to rescue these boaters. Specifically, Regulation 33 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V states:
The Master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide
assistance on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in
distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance, if
possible informing them or the Search and Rescue Service that the ship is
doing so. If the ship receiving the distress alert is unable or, in the special
circumstances of the case considers it unreasonable or un-necessary to
proceed to their assistance, the Master must enter in the log-book the reason
for failing to proceed to the assistance of the persons in distress, taking into
account the recommendation of the Organization to inform the appropriate
Search and Rescue Service accordingly.
Princess Cruises has also responded to questions about this law dealing with rescue by stating the following:
"We all understand that it is our responsibility and also the law of the sea to
provide assistance to any vessel in distress, and it is not an uncommon occur-
rence for our ships to be involved in a rescue at sea."
Prince claims to have been involved in more than 30 rescues in the last 10 years.
A representative of the U.S. Coast Guard District 11, which would cover the Pacific waters, indicated that no messages were received from the cruise ship or any of their passengers regarding the boaters being spotted while they were in distress.
Our Miami based maritime law firm represents passengers and crewmembers in personal injury and wrongful death claims against cruise ship companies. We also handle all types of boating accidents.