"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cruisin' - different sorts of excitement

Accident prone Cyprus-based Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines 22,000 ton Sea Diamond cruise liner was evacuating 1,167 passengers after the boat hit a well charted rock in Santorini Bay this afternoon. More than a dozen small ships and naval helicopters took part in the rescue and another vessel , the 35 year old Perla is on it's way to return the passengers to Piraeus which they left on Tuesday on their 5 day voyage round the Greek islands and Turkey. (Friday update - the ship sanl at 7.00 am local time and2 French passengers a 45-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter are reported missing , his wife and another child are safe.)

In 1986 the Sea Diamond previously operated as the Birka Princess prior to its purchase and re-fit by Louis Hellenic Cruises some 10 years ago.Louis’s fleet consists of 13 cruise ships, four of which are chartered by Britain’s Thomson Cruises and one by Germany’s Transocean.

Only last May Louis Lines Calypso with 454 passengers, out of 708 on board were rescued after an engine roomfire as the ship passed Beach Head on it's way from Tilbury to St peter Port Jersey, and they had to be towed in to Southampton.

It was the same company that owned the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on Corfu where two children , Christianne, seven, and Robert six died from carbon monoxide poisoning last October and nearly killed their mother and partner.

Crusing is ibcreasingly opular, but it is not without it's concerns. On a ship - especially a US owned one you virtually leave the law behind. Consider the case of Merrian Carver, a 40 year old woman, disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska in August of 2004. Her Steward reported her missing for 5 days to his supervisor and was told to “just do your job and forget it” At the end of the cruise, Cruise line officials simply boxed up her belongings and even disposed of most of her items.

Her parents spent huge sums on lawyers and private eyes to be rebuffed at every turn, for any explanation. This resulted in them setting up the organisation International Cruise Victims, whose website has a seemingly endless list of losses at sea, on board rapes, violence and indifferent cruise operators. Contempating a cruise, know someone who is ? Have a read before you book.

Ross Klein, professor of social work at the Memorial University of Newfoundland claims a woman has a 50% greater chance of sexual assault on a Royal Caribbean International ship as compared to the US generally, in evidence to a House of Representatives subcommittee on Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation, held on March 27. He explained that the figures for Royal Caribbean are comparable to those for the industry as a whole and were used for the sake of clarity.

Annual rate of all sex-related shipboard incidents (per 100,000): 162
Annual rate of sexual assaults (per 100,000): 48
US rate for sexual assaults (per 100,000): 32

However Cruise ship operators have to cope with crazy and often drunk passengers. It seems that plunging off balconies in the middle of the night is the latest ticket to fun and probably an early marine grave.

Only last week 2 young -- a 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman -- deliberately fell or dived from a cabin balcony on the Grand Princess at around 1:30 am on March 25th, and miraculously, both were rescued after a four-hour search, according to Princess Cruises.

The ship was about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, at the time that the two fell 50 to 60 feet into the ocean. The ship's crew used high-powered spotlights and one passenger was rescued by the ship's boats at 5:30 am. and the other at 6 am.

The latest balcony plunge comes three days after 35-year-old Michael Mankamyer of Orlando appeared on ABC-TV to tell how he, while drunk, had plunged off the Carnival Glory on March 10th week off the Florida coast and stayed afloat until rescued eight hours later. Apparently he had taken his 16 year old god son on the trip and his intention was to act as a chaperone.

While the Carnival jumper clearly welcomed the opportunity to "tell his story exclusively to 'Good Morning America'," it costs the companies fortunes to delay or adjust itineraries, in these cases part of rampantly partying "spring break" students after Florida has shooooed them off.

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(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish