Friday, May 27, 2011

Bar Harbor MCI Drill Successfully Completed - 18 May 2011 - Written by Monty Mathisen

The United States Coast Guard, along with Royal Caribbean Cruises, and local, state and federal agencies, including the American Red Cross, successfully completed a Mass Casualty Incident Drill (MCI) in Bar Harbor, Maine, on May 18. Some 300 people participated, including a large number of local volunteers who willingly played victims. The cruise industry in Maine is a growing industry and we all have a responsibility to make sure we have plans in place, and that we know our partners and our partners know us,” commented Captain Jim McPherson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New England. The drill (without a cruise ship presence) simulated two cruise-ship tenders making contact on a foggy morning in Bar Harbor. The port will have seven days this season with three ships in town, and undoubtedly a high amount of tender traffic. We get everyone together in a realistic scenario to practice what could happen and see how all these agencies work together, said Rear Admiral Daniel A. Neptun, commander, United States Coast Guard.  It’s about good communication and making it safer for groups to come here on ships, making sure the community is ready if something ever happened.”

With limited emergency response infrastructure in a rather rural area, the drill was designed to deal with triage, communication issues, agency cooperation, and patient care and transportation. Added Rob McAleer, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency: “We are building up relationships between agencies. The bonding after two years of planning is taking place, and agencies know how to work together.”

Following a call for help at 10:00 am, local emergency responders rolled, along with the response of good Samaritans in local fishing boats, pleasure crafts and sightseeing vessels. Eight minutes later emergency responders learned that there were 29 injuries, and at that point made a decision to ask for additional help from the greater area. Ambulances staged on the town’s pier while the fire department set up its incident command post. As various boats brought patients to shore, EMTs has to assess the level of care needed (triage), separating them into various groups and transporting as necessary.

Neptun told Cruise Industry News that hospital staff came in on their day off to help with the drill. The local hospital was able to handle the surge of drill patients, even while running its own emergency room with seven patients. Additionally, despite radio traffic on Maine’s emergency frequencies saying it was a drill, a whale watching vessel actually responded to the incident location, that shows the maritime community’s Samaritan spirit, added Neptun. They will help out anyone in distress.”

Incident commanders had to determine care levels and put multiple patients in each ambulance, as well as deal with more patients being brought to the pier, sometimes in need of urgent attention. Over a few hours, patients were brought in on a simulated schedule, at times trying to overwhelm the shore-side response team. That team, which included the local fire department and various ambulance companies, also had to work on their feet, and at times were left with limited equipment with all the ambulances available on hospital transports and on their way back to the incident. Officials also noted that in some cases the hospital actually re-classified some patients as more injured than their original assessments by first responders on the pier.  EMS personnel worked on a patient, stabilizing them, and then moved onto the next patient that needed the most urgent attention. Assets were brought in from surrounding areas, such as more ambulances, additional personnel and lifting assistance, with realistic response times.

Accountability is the big thing here, commented Richard Pruitt, Associate VP of Environmental Programs at Royal Caribbean Cruises. “We always want to cooperate with the Coast Guard. Obviously we want to see how our guests would be accounted for.” Pruitt added that the drill had been under design for more than a year, and that the cruise line went as far as making sure some of the victims did not have SeaPass cards on them to see how the response team would cope.

During the drill, Royal Caribbean’s situation room in Miami was stood up, helping the on-site team, which consisted of about 15 people, including Steve Williams, director of medical operations. During a real emergency, Pruitt pointed out, the cruise line would be responsible for arranging flights, hotels for family and more. He also noted an issue figuring out which passengers were on tenders headed back to the ship, since they don’t swipe in until they get onboard. We know who isn’t on the ship, but we don’t know (yet) who is on the tender going back to the ship, he commented.

Monday, May 23, 2011

NCL's FreeStyle Dash - May 24, 2011

FREESTYLE DASH: May 24-27, 2011
This is it. Make a dash for Norwegian Cruise Line's action-packed sales event. Get 50% reduced deposits, PLUS up to $250 onboard credit on most sailings. But hurry, these great savings only last for four exciting days.
Speed Counts – Act fast for special savings
  • Starting line: May 24 
  • Finish line: May 27
Sale’s On – Four days only!

  • Up to $250 onboard credit per stateroom
  • 50% reduced deposit

Special: Norwegian Epic Europe Bonus Offer
  • $50 bonus commission per stateroom for you
  • Up to $300 onboard credit per stateroom
  • 50% reduced deposit (only available from 5/24-5/27)
  • All Norwegian Epic summer sailings in Europe – 2011 & 2012

Friday, May 20, 2011

Anschutz Corp. Wins Bankruptcy Bid for Ambassadors International

TAC Cruise LLC, a unit of Denver-based Anschutz Corp., was the high bidder in a bankruptcy auction for Seattle-based Ambassadors International Inc., which operates Windstar Cruises, according to news reports. The winning bid was approximately $39 million in cash. As part of the offer, TAC Cruise will take on certain liabilities. The deal must be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court, which will make its decision following a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, May 18. The pending acquisition is a coup for billionaire Philip Anschutz, whose company also has ownership interest in the Los Angeles Lakers pro basketball team, the Los Angeles Kings pro hockey team and Regal Entertainment Group.

Monday, May 2, 2011

U.S. Issues Worldwide Travel Alert After Bin Laden Death

The U.S. Department of State on May 1 issued an alert to U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad about the enhanced potential for anti-American violence after U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden, the head of the Al-Qaida terrorist group, in Pakistan. The department said that given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. This travel alert expires Aug. 1, 2011.
The U.S. said embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation. U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The State Department said media coverage of local events may cause family and friends to become concerned for their loved ones traveling and residing abroad. “We urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends,” the State Department said. “U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security issues. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.” For more information, call 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444, or visit