Cruise News Update: Icon Rescue, Photoshoot Delays Ship, Crew Member

It's time for another weekly cruise news update, including an Icon of the Seas rescue, photoshoot delaying a ship, hidden camera and more!

It’s time for another exciting edition of Cruise News Update, brought to you by Cruise Hive, the go-to source for developments in cruising. This week we have coverage on Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, and the iconic SS United States ocean liner.

Cruise News Update

Stay informed on all of the big cruise news stories at Cruise Hive, where we’ve got the scoop on a Royal Caribbean crew member being arrested and charged with hiding cameras in staterooms, a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Line by a guest who was injured by a donkey during a port call, the ongoing court case involving the SS United States ocean liner, Utopia of the Seas moving up her launch date, a photo-op at sea delaying Silver Nova’s return to port, and Icon of the Seas rescuing migrants adrift on a raft.

Crew Member Charged in Hidden Camera Incident

A crew member employed as a cabin steward on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas was fired from his job and turned over to authorities after the cruise line learned he had allegedly been hiding cameras in some of the staterooms he was responsible for cleaning.

The 34-year-old Arvin Joseph Mirasol, a Philippine national, was arrested on March 3, 2024, as the Oasis-class ship returned to her homeport of Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), and taken to Broward County Jail.

The arrest followed a complaint by a guest who found a camera hidden in her cabin’s bathroom during the ship’s 8-night South Caribbean cruise. Mirasol was immediately detained by ship officials.

Symphony of the Seas Cruise Ship
Symphony of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

Royal Caribbean alerted Homeland Security, and authorities were waiting to arrest Mirasol when the ship docked in Florida. The suspect had been working aboard the 5,500-guest Symphony of the Seas since December 2023.

Mirasol, now facing federal charges, reportedly confessed to authorities, and is charged with placing hidden cameras in multiple cabins and, on several occasions, hiding under the beds in some cabins while guests were in the shower.

Royal Caribbean is cooperating with law enforcement officials in the case. Another hidden camera incident occurred on the cruise line’s Harmony of the Seas in May 2023, when a guest was arrested for allegedly placing one in a unisex bathroom onboard.

Guest Sues Cruise Line After Donkey Kicks Him

A photo-op with a donkey in Grand Turk turned into a medical emergency for a guest sailing aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, and now the guest is suing the line for various damages.

Florida resident Daniel Goldston was sailing with his wife on Mardi Gras when the ship called at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. At the Grand Turk Cruise Port, a facility built and owned by Carnival Corporation, the cruise line’s parent company, Goldston posed for a photo with a donkey, but the animal kicked and fractured the man’s right knee.

The guest filed a lawsuit on February 16, 2024 against Carnival Cruise Line for compensatory damages, medical expenses, lost income, and other, non-economic damages as a result of the injury and the multiple surgeries he has had since the incident.

Donkeys at Grand Turk
Donkeys at Grand Turk (Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas)

Carnival, the suit claims, was negligent. It also “failed to maintain and operate the cruise terminal properly and failed to install warning signs about the animals and potential risk of harm.” 

Some commenters on social media are questioning Goldston’s actions, suggesting it was unwise to approach an animal, or that perhaps he provoked the donkey in some way.

There have been reports of growing populations of wild donkeys and stray dogs impacting the visitor experience at Grand Turk, a destination that in 2023 saw a decline in profitability and customer service ratings.

Iconic Liner’s Fate Hangs in Balance After Court Hearing

A decision is looming over the fate of the SS United States, a historic transatlantic ocean liner that entered service in 1952. For the last 30 years, the ship has been docked at Philadelphia’s Pier 82, but a dispute over unpaid docking and berth fees could spell trouble for the iconic ship.

Cruise watchers are waiting for a court decision following a recent two-day case in federal court. The liner is owned by the SS United States Conservancy, a group now in litigation with pier owner Penn Warehousing and Distribution. In 2021 Penn doubled the ship’s berth rental fee to $1,700 per day, an action that the conservancy says was implemented without negotiation or proper notification.

SS United States Ship
SS United States Ship (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov)

With outstanding fees of more than $730,000, it remains unclear whether the ship will have to be moved from its dock. The conservancy, for its part, is prepared to move the vessel if a new home can be arranged. The ship could be renovated into a tourism attraction with event space, accommodations, and other features.

In a worst-case scenario, the ship would be scrapped or reefed, meaning it would be deliberately sunk to become an artificial reef. There is no indication how fas a court decision could come.

In its heyday, SS United States operated scheduled transatlantic service and carried 1,928 guests and 900 crew. She sailed for 17 years and broke records in crossing the Atlantic.

Utopia of the Seas to Sail Earlier Than Planned

It isn’t often that a new cruise ship enters service before her scheduled launch date, but that is the case with Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas, the line’s sixth Oasis-class vessel.

Under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, the ship was to sail her 4-night maiden voyage on July 22, 2024. But the cruise line has moved up the inaugural sailing to July 19, 2024. The new maiden cruise will be just three nights.

Cruisers who are booked on the original departure have the option of moving their booking to the new date. But the clock is ticking: The offer to switch to the new departure date is valid only until March 12, 2024. The 5,600-guest ship will be homeported in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Royal Caribbean's Utopia of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas

Guests who move their booking to the earlier cruise will be in the same stateroom they originally chose, and will receive a pro-rated, one-day refund of the cruise fare and any pre-paid packages.

Air travel booked through the line will have their flights changed, while compensation will be offered to those who booked air fare and/or hotels independently.

Ironically, the news about Utopia of the Seas entering service early followed by just a few days the announcement that Royal Caribbean’s newest Icon-class vessel, Star of the Seas, will be delayed. Her first two cruises, set for August 2025, have been cancelled. The ship is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland.

Photo Session at Sea Will Delay Ship’s Return to Port

The newest ships from each of Royal Caribbean Group’s three brands, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises, will have an at-sea meet-up on March 13, 2024, giving the company the perfect chance for a sensational photo-op.

Icon of the Seas, which launched in January 2024, Celebrity Ascent, which entered service in November 2023, and Silver Nova, which debuted in August 2023, will all be sailing nearby each other in the Caribbean and will come together for a drone photography session.

Silver Nova Royal Caribbean Photoshoot
Silver Nova Royal Caribbean Photoshoot (Photo Credit: Elflaco1983)

However, the rendezvous will impact Silver Nova’s return to port on March 15, 2024, making her arrival at Port Everglades four hours later than originally planned. The ship had been due to arrive at 7 a.m., but now will arrive at 11 a.m. This will affect disembarkation and will likely mean that any guests with early morning flights will have to reschedule their transport home.

The luxury ship is sailing a 10-day voyage from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Port Everglades. Guests who booked airfare through Silversea will have their arrangements changed by the line, and those who booked independently will be reimbursed for reasonable costs, such as cancellation or other fees.

Icon of the Seas Rescues Migrants Stranded at Sea

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, spearheaded the rescue of 14 refugees found stranded in a raft off the coast of Honduras on March 3, 2024. 

A lookout aboard the 5,600-guest ship, which had sailed from her homeport of PortMiami on a 7-night Western Caribbean voyage, spotted the watercraft. Icon of the Seas Captain Henrik Loy and his crew immediately launched a rescue operation, as required by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Icon of the Seas Rescue
Icon of the Seas Rescue (Photo Credits: @oheyitsali / Drew Rawcliffe)

The refugees had been stranded on the raft for eight days and were in need of medical attention once they boarded the mega-ship. The ship’s crew provided medical aid and helped to stabilize the group’s condition while collaborating with the US Coast Guard.

The ship transported the refugees to her next port of call, Roatan, Honduras, and turned the migrants over to the Merchant Navy of Honduras.

Rescue operations involving migrants are becoming more common. In February 2024, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Celebration assisted 20 Cuban refugees in a boat in the Florida Straits, and in January 2024, Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady rescued 18 Cuban migrants from their sinking boat in the Caribbean.

More Cruise Headlines

Cruise Hive has even more news you won’t want to miss. Check out our stories about another Carnival Cruise Line ship adding the popular Heroes Tribute Bar & Lounge, Fred. Olsen Cruise Line prohibiting smoking on ship balconies, New York City setting a mandate for shoreside power connections, Virgin Voyages inviting remote workers on a monthlong cruise, and Holland America Line rolling out a spring sale.

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