Cruise ship worker arrested for online porn charges not the first

Celebrity Cruises audio-visual manager Amado Hernandez won’t be sailing on a scheduled Panama Canal cruise this week after being arrested by the FBI on child-pornography charges in San Diego Tuesday.

The investigation began when a computer technician was given what he thought was a broken computer at an estate sale last summer. The technician repaired the machine and discovered 450 still images and 250 video files of child pornography which he turned over to law enforcement authorities who then linked 31 year-old Hernandez to the machine.

According to the federal complaint reported by Signon San Diego, Hernandez had provided “onboard guest-entertainment services” on Celebrity Constellation since August and was due to ship out again on Monday before being arrested by the FBI. In evidence from documented online chats, Hernandez told of “buying young boys for sex in Mexico” and had “almost offed one once.”

In the online conversation evidence, Hernandez allegedly asked a man who said he was from Arkansas if he liked young boys, then suggested, “It would be hot to tag team one, go buy one in Mexico.”

Hernandez is not the first cruise ship worker arrested on child porn charges either. Maritime attorney Jim Walker reports crew members from Carnival and Costa Cruise Lines were also arrested recently saying “It’s not an isolated problem.”

Flickr photo by naxin

Cruise line gets mixed reviews in aftermath of rocky ride

Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas encounter with nasty weather earlier this month initially got rave reviews from guests and critics alike. Initial reports indicated the line did everything by the book and when out of its way to accommodate all on board. As time went on though, the story got a bit ugly.

The line was quick to issue $200 onboard credit and a full refund for those on board even though the cruise was almost over when the incident occurred. Initial reports were highly in favor of the cruise line doing the right thing.

But it did not take long for critics to smell a bigger story in the water causing cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO of to tweet “Did @RoyalCaribbean panic by refunding #cruise passengers on Brilliance of the Seas on 8th day of 12-night sailing? Must B more 2 story!” shortly after the event.

Indeed, it was a developing story and Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told AOL Travel News. “As the cruise progressed, additional guests presented to the medical facility with symptoms and/or injuries” and the cruise line posted this video:

Adding to increasingly mixed reviews on how Royal Caribbean handled the situation, Maritime attorney Jim Walker had sharp criticism saying “RCCL has pulled this stunt time and time again, quickly issuing misleading statements in the hope that the media will quote its carefully crafted misinformation and then the story will quickly blow over”

Passengers who were actually onthe ship tell a bit different story though. Industry insider reports one typical passenger saying Royal Caribbean “went overboard” with the compensation.

Flickr photo by Rennett Stowe

Cruise ship power outage found to be explosion

Most of the passengers on board Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 were sleeping when the ship lost power on the morning of September 23rd. What was believed to be a brief power outage has now been identified as a more serious problem.

After a complete investigation, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) ruled this week that the event was actually the result of an engine room explosion. In a report published this week the event was described as a “catastrophic failure” of electrical capacitors caused by gradual deterioration.

While passenger safety was not compromised the explosion, deemed strong enough to damage steel doors, adds to a call for improved cruise ship safety world-wide.

Maritime attorney Jim Walker notes “The reporting of this latest incident raises the issue of the safety of foreign flagged cruise ships, and comes after a string of recent disturbing mishaps.”

Earlier this week passengers were poisoned by potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas on Princess Cruises Sea Princess. On Holland America, a reportedly drunken passenger got into crew-only secured area and dropped the ship’s anchor. Carnival Splendor continues repairs for an on-board fire that canceled sailings between now and January.

While cruise vacations continue to be one of the safest methods of travel, these incidents have cruise lines taking a long, hard look at existing safety policies.

Flickr photo by Dawn Encido