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Letter from Commissioner William Doyle to Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Adam Goldstein

May 29, 2013


May 29, 2013 Update: On May 28, 2013, I sent a letter to Royal Caribbean International's (RCI) President and CEO, Mr. Adam Goldstein, asking for information related to the P/V GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS. This letter was sent after RCI's GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS suffered a shipboard fire that occurred while at sea on May 27, 2013. Late yesterday afternoon, I received confirmation from Mr. Goldstein that he had received my letter. His confirmation included assurances that RCI would respond to the best of its abilities as it continues to assess the damage to the ship, cruise service interruptions, and guest compensation and logistics. My letter to Mr. Goldstein follows a similar letter I sent to Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) President and CEO, Mr. Gerry Cahill, following a shipboard (engine room) fire aboard the P/V CARNIVAL TRIUMPH. You can find information related to CCL’s responses – namely, CCL’s cancellation notices, guest compensation, and similar information – on the Commission’s website under "News Alerts."


 

FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

May 28, 2013

Office of Commissioner William P. Doyle
Federal Maritime Commission 800
North Capitol Street Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20573

Re: P/V GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS

Mr. Adam M. Goldstein
President and Chief Executive Officer
Royal Caribbean International
1050 Caribbean Way
Miami, Florida 33132-2096

VIA: EMAIL to Mr. Adam Goldstein

Dear Mr. Goldstein:

I am a marine engineer and actively served as an officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine aboard most classes of deep sea vessels. I have worked in the maritime industry for over two decades. I am particularly sensitive to the dangers associated with any vessel working at sea. I thoroughly understand the dangers associated with a shipboard fire. With that background, I am extremely thankful that the current reports indicate that there was no loss of life or serious injury as a result of the fire aboard Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) P/V GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS. Indeed, the safety and security of the passengers and crew aboard the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS are of the utmost importance.

Even so, I understand that the shipboard conditions were challenging, and I also understand that at least one pending cruise planned aboard the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS has been cancelled. While I appreciate your need to have the vessel repaired and returned to service, I know that many of your passengers may have undertaken great expense and significant planning to embark on a cruise that has now been cancelled.

Further, current reports suggest you are making efforts to accommodate your passengers who were on the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS during this event, but I have seen only a press release that loosely states RCI’s plan of action. I have not seen a posted plan and process to make whole those passengers who endured the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS’ failures; that is, I have not seen an action plan that articulates how you intend to ensure that the passengers will be compensated for this failure. Additionally, I have not seen a posted action plan and process to make whole those passengers whose future cruises may be cancelled as a result of the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS’ fire. As of this letter, I understand that the Commission has received nothing from RCI that it may pass along to consumers.

Accordingly, I would like to know the following as soon as possible: 

  1. RCI’s plan to make whole the passengers who were aboard GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS through this event; 
  2. RCI’s plan to make whole those passengers whose future cruise has been or will be cancelled as a result of the shipboard fire and removal of the vessel from service;
      a. As a part of your response to this question, please itemize the cancellation dates going forward.
  3. What is the name and contact information for the person(s) within RCI with whom my office or the Commission may interact with respect to consumer related matters;
  4. RCI’s accounting of how many times this vessel has been removed from service – that resulted in a cruise cancellation or modification – since it was launched and employed by RCI or any of its affiliates;
  5. What is the country of registry for this vessel and any previous countries of registry, if any;
  6. a. As a part of your response to this question, please articulate the corporate form or organizational structure used to document the vessel.
  7. Where and under what corporate form is this vessel currently documented, if different from the country of registry;
  8. What is the primary country and its agency (or agencies) that will lead the investigation with respect to this shipboard fire; and
  9. What are the other agencies – domestic, national, or international – with investigative roles and jurisdiction with respect to the shipboard fire on this vessel?

While I am cognizant that current reports indicate that no one was injured during this fire, I am nonetheless alarmed by shipboard failures. Notably, RCI and its GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS are not alone. In particular, Carnival Cruise Lines had three recent shipboard incidents that merit mentioning. The CARNIVAL TRIUMPH suffered a shipboard fire and loss of power that left her stranded at sea, requiring her to be towed to Mobile, Alabama. The CARNIVAL TRIUMPH’s sister ships, CARNIVAL LEGEND and CARNIVAL DREAM, also suffered shipboard incidents that resulted in cancellations and modifications to cruise scheduling. As a marine engineer, these incidents have my attention; as a Commissioner, the cruise ship industry falls within the purview of the Federal Maritime Commission. Thus, I hope to learn more.   

This is my direct email, and I welcome your direct response. While I recognize you are busy, I would appreciate a response from you as soon as possible on the consumer matters with respect to making passengers (present and future) whole and the requested contact information – within 24 hours. I would appreciate a response within five (5) days with respect to the information concerning vessel history, registry, documentation, investigative authorities, and jurisdiction. Please note that I have copied my Counsel, Mr. Eric Lee, on this correspondence, and I would appreciate your copying him on any reply.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

William P. Doyle
Commissioner