On the 10th of March, the cruise ship Star Princess, owned by Princess Cruises, sailed by a fishing vessel which had been stranded at sea for two weeks. Noting the crew of the fishing vessel was clearly trying to gain the attention of the cruise ship, three passengers on board the Star Princess who witnessed this immediately alerted the ship’s watchstanders.
No action was taken and the ship’s log recorded that they were avoiding the fisherman’s nets and did not acknowledge the apparent distress of the Panamanian fishermen.
In a statement, Princess Cruises says, “We’re aware of the allegations that Star Princess supposedly passed by a boat in distress that was carrying three Panamanian fishermen on March 10. At this time we cannot verify the facts as reported, and we are currently conducting an internal investigation on the matter.”
Princess Cruises is an America/UK owned company, based in Santa Clarita, CA – but their ships are flagged in Bermuda. Maritime law (both traditional and in US statutes) dictates that mariners have a REQUIREMENT to render aid to other vessels in distress, so their is the potential for both civil and criminal penalties IF the allegations turn out to be true, and IF it can be shown that the Captain of the cruise vessel knew (or should have known) that the vessel was actually in distress, and not just a fishing vessel.