As cruise ship safety continues to be at the forefront of people’s minds following the tragic COSTA CONCORDIA disaster, now Princess Cruises finds itself at the heart of controversy over accusations that one of its ships ignored a fishing vessel in distress.
The cruise ship STAR PRINCESS sailed near the stranded fishing vessel THE FIFTY CENT on Mar. 10. Three passengers onboard the STAR PRINCESS, who were bird watching at the time, noticed the vessel and saw its crew trying to get the attention of the cruise ship by waiving a piece of cloth. The three passengers notified ship officials, but the STAR PRINCESS did not turn around.
The Ecuadorian Coast Guard found THE FIFTY CENT two weeks later on Mar. 24 with only one survivor, Adrian Vasquez, 18. According to The Guardian, Oropeces Betancourt, 24, died on the night of Mar. 10 from dehydration, and Fernando Osorio, 16, died on Mar. 15 from dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke.
According to NPR, the STAR PRINCESS captain’s log reports passing through a fishing fleet, and a Princess Cruises representative allegedly told passenger Judy Meredith that when the fishing boat was contacted, its crew requested that the cruise ship alter its course to avoid their nets and then waived their shirts to say thanks.
Carnival Cruise Lines owns both Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises, and according to The Guardian, Carnival has launched an internal investigation into this incident. International maritime law requires ships to aid vessels in distress if they can do so without endangering themselves.
THE FIFTY CENT was adrift for 28 days. Sadly, had the passing cruise ship stopped, all three men onboard the stranded fishing vessel might have survived.
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