Cruise Law News : Maritime Lawyer & Attorney : James M. Walker : Walker & O’Neill Law Firm : Admiralty Law, Cruise Ship Accidents & Injuries

div class=”blogbody”> A member of Cruise Critic sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is commenting that a crew member apparently went overboard from the cruise ship last night.  There is a suggestion by those on the cruise ship that the crew member is a waiter and may have jumped. 

We reported earlier this year on two other crew members who jumped from Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  On December 31, 2009 we posted the article " Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard" involving an apparent suicide of Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara who jumped from the Monarch of the Seas.  Her case involved allegations that her husband, Ankit Delal, also working on the cruise ship, physically and emotionally abused her.

In March, another crew member jumped from Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.  You can read about that incident here:  "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas.   We reported that the Master of the  cruise ship responded quickly; however, the crew member (an employee of Park West Gallery) did not survive - "Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard."

It is currently unknown whether the crew member was rescued.  139 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years, according to Professor Ross Klein’s Cruise Junkie web site.

We will update the article as more information becomes available.  Were you on the cruise or have information to share?  Please leave a comment below. 

May 6, 2010 Update:

FoxNews.com is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a search for the 26 year old crew member 138 miles north of the coastal town of Isabela, Puerto Rico.  

Royal Caribbean’s PR spokesperson Cynthia Martinez is quoted as saying that an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television tapes (CCTV) reveals the crew member lowering himself over the side of the cruise ship around 8:15 p.m. last night.  However, a passenger commenting on the Cruise Critic web sites indicates that the ship did not turn to search for the crew members until around 10:20 p.m. – around two hours later.

These types of incidents reveal security deficiencies on cruise ships.  If a crew member can lower himself over the rail and into the water without being spotted by security or detected by cameras, a terrorist can just as easily come over the rail and onto the ship without being detected. 

Does anyone on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships monitor the exterior cameras? 

We have reported on this problem on other Royal Caribbean overboards – "Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara’s Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean’s Shipboard Security? "

May 7, 2010 Update – Search begins:

The Coast Guard News reports that Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan received a call at approximately 9:15 p.m. Wednesday from the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas reporting the incident.

Coast Guard rescue crews then began searching for the man overboard.  The Coast Guard deployed a HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami, a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, and Coast Guard Cutters Matinicus and Chincoteague (110-foot patrol boats) homeported in San Juan.

May 7, 2010 Update – Comments by family:

The brother and sister of the crew member have left comments below, seeking information and an explanation regarding what happened.  We hope that the cruise line will provide the necessary information and assistance.  Condolences to the Buddaru Family. 

May 8, 2010 Update – Search ends:

According to the Daily Sun newspaper in Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the crew member yesterday morning at "about 7 a.m.”  A Coast Guard spokesperson said "regrettably we did not find him alive."  

 May 8, 2010 – Crew member identified:

A newspaper Defi Media Group is reporting that the Royal Caribbean crew member is Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru, age 26, whose family lives on the island of Mauritius.  The newspaper suggests that he worked as a bartender on the cruise ship, although most comments indicate that he was a waiter or assistant waiter.  His sister, Anuradha, stated that she spoke to him "on the telephone Wednesday morning.  It seemed normal.  He had no personal problem."

May 9 Update – Passengers applaud Master and crew: 

Passengers aboard the cruise ship are commenting that the cruise ship responded promptly and the crew handled themselves profesionally during this difficult experience. 

A newspaper in Mauritius LexPress.mu reports that Mr. Buddaru had worked for three years for Royal Caribbean.  

May 10, 2010 Update:

Defi Media in Mauritius has an article today on Mr. Buddaru’s disappearance, and incudes a photograph (above right) of the young man.

May 11, 2010 Update:

A newspaper in the cruise ship’s home port in New Jersey is reporting that the FBI is investigating the incident.  The article also mentions that crew members reported Mr. Buddaru missing around 8:40 p.m.  The Coast Guard issued a statement that they were notified around 9:15 p.m.  The CCTV images apparently show the crew member going overboard at 8:13 p.m.

 

Credits

Photo of Explorer of the Seas       Luke Redmond’s Fickr photostream

Photograph of Ms. Buddaru  DefiMedia Mauritius

Tags: Disappearances, buddaru, crew, explorer of the seas, missing, overboard, royal caribbean, satianand buddaru, satyanand buddaru

100 MPH Wind / Listing Incident – What Happened to the Explorer of the Seas?

Posted on March 14, 2010 by Jim Walker We have been contacted by a number of passengers from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas about a frightening experience when the cruise ship suddenly listed around four a.m. on February 28th.  All of those individuals who contacted us simply wanted an explanation regarding what happened, and they were frustrated regarding the lack of factual information from the cruise line.

What is curious about this incident is that the Explorer has sophisticated atmospheric and oceanographic equipment aboard the vessel monitored by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. 

The Explorer of the Seas left Port Liberty New Jersey on February 26th for the Caribbean.  What happened is less than clear given the conflicting accounts posted on line.  

Ross Klein’s Cruise Junkie web site contains a description of the the incident from a passenger:

".  .  .  guest lodging on level 3 were under water, the Promenade was a titanic disaster, crew quickly left stations to report to lifeboat stations, tvs crashing, objects in cabins flying around."  

The on line Cruise Critic site also had a number of similar comments by concerned passengers.

Just returned from the 2/26 Explorer of the Seas.  NOT sure of how much danger we were in or how close we came to capsizing . . RCI is covering up and Stonewalling the release of any details. But we do know the Captain’s 4am announcement that stated an unforeseen 100 mile per hour wind caused the pilot "to lose control" of the ship causing it to list, causing all the loose items in the cabin to go flying about the cabin, cause enough breakage in the liquor store to force it not to open did not instill any confidence in us.  Cruisers on the 6th deck reported their balconies almost touching the water.  We suspect the list was greater than the 10 degrees reported.  What was wrong with the meteorological and navigational equipment that the weather conditions were unknown?  We heard but could not confirm that two people were reportedly thrown from the hot tub resulting in a broken knee and a broken toe ..

Most accounts by passengers estimate the list between 10 and 15 degrees.

Perhaps the most straight forward comments about this most recent incident came from another Cruise Critic reader: 

"I was on the cruise on explorer 2/26 and the ship did list at 14 degrees not 10 and it took almost 4 minutes to get it back to normal. I was awake the whole time and left my cabin on deck 6 when all the books on my table fell to the ground and the mini bar door opened and slid half way out. I got up went to deck 11 and the were two people in the the hot tubs.   They did not get thrown out but all their clothes were blown over board by the powerful wind gusts that hit the back of the ship. The water in the tubs all emptied and some came in the ship by Portofinos an soaked the rugs there. I talked to an officer in the promenade just after the ship was righted and he was extremely concerned with what transpired. The auto pilot software should have compensated for the wind switch and the ballast tanks should also have been controlled by the auto pilot. which did not happen. They have a serious problem with the auto pilot software from where I stand. This all should have been compensated for in the software that controls the ships steering systems .  .  .  More serious than you think."   As is usual in the Cruise Critic community, anyone with negative comments about the experience was ridiculed by the other readers and accused of exaggerating the incident.   But the reality is that unless consumers step forward and provide information like this, the cruise line will be more than happy for such incidents to remain unreported.  The Explorer was involved in another severe listing incident back in 2005.  Like this incident, there was little factual information released by the cruise line.  The on line discussion at Cruise Critic  unraveled with the readers mocking one another.    Royal Caribbean has suffered through the past many years with a reputation of being less than transparent with environmental infractions and crimes on its fleet of cruise ships.  In instances like this, the cruise line needs to issue a detailed statement of the facts of the incident so that U.S. passengers can understand what happened.  There are detailed reports of the wind and wave conditions, and the cruising public needs to know what happened and whether there is a glitch in the automatic piloting system on the cruise ship.  This will avoid all of the speculation and may assist Royal Caribbean finally taking some much needed steps to improve its corporate image. 

This cruise line’s PR spokesperson is Cynthia Martinez.  Her LinkedIn profile lists her as the "Manager of Corporate Communications (Crisis) at Royal Caribbean."  Her duties include providing  "communications guidance and counsel during crisis situations involving issues such as: environmental, litigations, health & medical, weather, marine and hotel operations, onboard accidents and alleged crimes."

Why hasn’t the public heard from Ms. Martinez regarding this incident? 

Ms. Martinez does not respond to inquiries for information from our firm.  Perhaps if a passenger makes an inquiry directly, some factual information will be forthcoming – although I would not hold my breath.

Her email is CynthiaMartinez@rccl.com

We will be looking into this matter further.  If you were a passenger on this cruise ship, we would like to hear your comments about the experience and how the incident was handled by the cruise line, good or bad.

March 15 Update:

One reader who was on the cruise made the folowing assessment: "The entire incident made me question who the cruise ship reports it to, if anyone. I didn’t see a thing about it in the press. The whole system seems very lax and a disaster waiting to happen. I have a background in insurance and it seems that the cruise line takes risks everywhere."

 

Credits:

Explorer of the Seas                           Wickipedia

Wind Sea & Swell Charts                    Ocean Wave Systems

Tags: Worst Cruise Line in the World, explorer of the seas, listing, royal caribbean

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