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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Carnival Legend Passenger Dies after he Fell and Hit the lifeboat on Deck 4

A guest died aboard the Carnival Legend, on Monday, December 20, while the cruise ship was sailing an 8-day Eastern Caribbean Christmas cruise. Several passengers reported that a man overboard signal was sounded on the public address system saying that from the deck cams there were lights in the water and that the crew even lowered a lifeboat.

Carnival Cruise Line said that while there was a man overboard alert, this was not an overboard incident, reports CBS Baltimore.

Following the tragic event Carnival released a statement;

"We are sad to share that we had an incident last night. We are supporting the guest's family and others who witnessed the situation. With respect for the privacy of all involved, we will not say any more, but ask that you keep the family in your thoughts and prayers."

A source aboard the Carnival Legend told that the man fell down from his balcony on Deck 8, and hit the lifeboat on Deck 4. This happened at around 00:30 local time.

The cruise ship, which embarked on its journey from Baltimore, Maryland, with stops in Nassau, Princess Cays and Grand Turk has made an unscheduled stop in Freeport, according to ship tracking websites. The reasons for the stop are unknown however some guests said that the man’s body was taken off the ship.

“We have been in Freeport since around 5:30 am. We are fueling now but not one of our stops. I guess the man's body was taken off and from what we hearing taking off his girlfriend,” a guest reported on social media.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Two Norwegian Star Elderly German Tourists Brutally Attacked during Robbery while Sightseeing on Shore

Two German Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) passengers were attacked in a violent robbery while sightseeing in Recife, Brazil, where the ship docked. One of the passengers was stabbed in the head during the incident and was taken to a local hospital, G1 Globo reports.

Wolfgang Duysen Gurkasch, 79, and Werner Duysen Gurkasch, 81, were attacked on Thursday, December 8, as they explored the local tourist sites. The elderly couple was sailing aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Star. The crime took place near the Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church, in the Santo Antonio neighborhood, when two robbers approached the victims.

Wolfgang had superficial injuries while Werner was stabbed in the head as the thieves made off with their cell phones and glasses. The stabbing victim was taken to Hospital Santa Joana, in the central region of the capital of Pernambuco, and remains hospitalized. The police said the couple was attacked while taking pictures. According to local merchants who witnessed the crime, one of the victims fell and hit his head on a step of a snack bar.

In a note, the Secretariat of Social Defense of Pernambuco reported that it “deeply regrets what happened” and that the security forces are working to identify and arrest the suspects.

Port Authorities released the following statement:

"Porto do Recife SA regrets the incident that occurred with the German passenger of the ship Norwegian Star, Werner Duysen Gurkasch, who disembarked through the Maritime Passenger Terminal and was attacked near Dantas Barreto Avenue, last Thursday (12/08). Porto do Recife SA has provided all possible assistance to the victim and the state Social Defense Secretariat is leading the investigations."

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Passengers Test Positive for COVID on Viking Jupiter with Mild Symptoms, and Placed in Mandatory Quarantine for 5 Days without Further Testing

Viking Cruises is still performing regular daily saliva COVID testing for many of its itineraries including Ocean, River and Expeditions cruises. Currently, those who test positive are being quarantined for 5 days on board with no further testing required. After 5 days those affected are provided a letter of recovery. Daily temperature and oxygen saturation testing is being performed for those in quarantine. 

When this will end is anyone's guess. For example, guests on a current itinerary for Viking Ocean to South America, were NOT required to provide arrival nor pre-boarding COVID testing but are tested daily. Does daily testing actually reflect local laws? You be the judge. View Viking's COVID policy here

Is Viking is "over testing," which was a question we posed when we sailed to Iceland over one year ago, when local officials denied and entire ship from visiting one port when one passenger tested positive for COVID? Other ships at the same ports were not testing at all while Viking tested daily

How do you perform a Viking saliva COVID test? Watch our video here!

About 20 passengers are in quarantine due to COVID testing according to a current Viking Jupiter passenger, and up to 50 more passengers on currently have GI symptoms too.

Remember, if you have questions related to your health, always consult your doctor or medical professional. The information presented here is informative only and is not medical advice.

Find the latest updates about COVID-19 by visiting the CDC website

Make sure you get a cover for your vaccine card!  We love the kind where the card can be removed to add booster record at a later date rather than laminating your card! Click below to check out these combined vaccine card and passport covers at Amazon! You can use them to organize all the documents needed to travel internationally these days! 

New Deadline Announced for the Real ID Act by the Department of Homeland Security

Are the days of flying domestically using only your driver’s license numbered? Possibly, if you don’t have a new type of license. As the deadline for the REAL ID Act looms, it’s vital for you to know if your current driver’s licenses doesn’t meet the new criteria.

If you’re unsure whether your identification card is Real ID-compliant, here’s how to know: It generally has a star in the top right corner.  If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card.

If you’ve been putting off getting a REAL ID, there is good news for you—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just announced that the REAL ID Act will not be enforced until May 7, 2025, postponing the deadline from May 2023.

Courtesy of

Even better some DMV will allow you to submit documents online. Check your state's DMV to see if and when that is available. 

Inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2005. The law prompted a mass crackdown on fake IDs and mandated that all states and territories enact stricter standards before issuing IDs.

New technology was rolled out that made it harder for criminals to trick the system and mimic ID cards. The new rules also meant that Americans needed more proof of identity — such as original birth certificates — when applying for the cards.  Before you go to the DMV make sure that you have proper documentation  to renew or obtain your new license.

Since then, most states have complied with the new ID rules, but several have dragged their feet for various reasons ranging from privacy concerns to budgeting issues.

Previously, LTD discussed how to travel if you lose your driver's license and it included what other acceptable forms of identification are at the airport.  That still is useful information because what are alternatives to the REAL ID if you don't meet the deadline?  According to the TSA here is the complete list for adults:

  • Driver's licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Strong Fire on the island of Holbox of mainland QuintanaRoo with Flames Consuming Casa Tortugas Hotel, Mawimbi and Others

A large fire on the Quintana Roo island of Holbox injured one person and damaged over 60 rooms at two Mexican Resort hotels on Monday night.

A gas tank explosion triggered the blaze on the small island located off the northern coast of mainland Quintana Roo.

The fire, which took place near the western tip of Holbox, was fueled by the organic material traditionally used for structures in the area and so beloved by guests. (Twitter)

The fire, which broke out at approximately 10 p.m. local time, destroyed at least 60 rooms at the Casa Las Tortugas and Posada Mawimbi hotels and damaged a restaurant, according to a report by news website Expansión Política.

Casa Las Tortugas was completely destroyed, the newspaper El Financiero reported. No estimate on a reopening date, if at all. 

Casa Las Tortugas (Facebook) 

Quintana Roo Governor Mara Lezama said on Twitter late Monday that a young person was injured by the fire, but not seriously.

“The Quintana Roo government has made all resources available to attend to the situation. The fire is being controlled, the fire is being extinguished,” she wrote just before midnight local time.

According to Expansíon Política, Holbox residents hurried with buckets of water to help extinguish the fire while it took time for firefighters and Civil Protection personnel to reach the island from the mainland.

Lezama, who visited the island on Tuesday morning, said on Twitter that the three levels of government, the business community and society in general will work together to build a fire station on Holbox.

“We acknowledge the volunteers and authorities that managed to extinguish the fire here in Holbox,” the governor said in another post.

Many guest lost their belongings including passports in the fire. The local government is assisting them to recover their possessions. All holiday bookings for the resorts are canceled and travelers are scrambling to find other accommodations. 

A Go Fund Me Page has been set up for the employees of Posada Marimba hotel

Thursday, December 1, 2022

(Frequent Updates) Viking Polaris Antarctica Expedition has Tragic Accident during Storm in the Drake Passage

Reports are coming in about a Tragic Accident on the Viking Polaris Antarctica Expedition during the Drake Passage portion of the sailing, off the southernmost portion of South America. By all accounts the company is handling the event with professionalism and compassion. There is a report of injuries and loss of one life. The cause is allegedly a rogue wave. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are affected by this tragedy.  

The Viking Octanis is returning to land to avoid the storm as well without any incident. 

From a Viking spokesperson:

"There was a rogue wave incident involving the Viking Polaris on November 29 at 22:40 local time, while the ship was sailing toward Ushuaia, Argentina. The ship sustained limited damage during the incident and arrived in port in Ushuaia without further incident on Wednesday afternoon local time.

It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident. We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies. We will continue to offer our full support to the family in the hours and days ahead.

Four other guests sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the incident and were treated by the ship’s onboard doctor and medical staff.

We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities.

Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel. 

After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the ship’s next scheduled departure, the December 5-17 Antarctic Explorer itinerary; all impacted guests and their travel advisors have been notified directly by Viking Customer Relations."

According to National Geographic, "a rogue wave is usually defined as a wave that is two times the significant wave height of the area. The significant wave height is the average of the highest one-third of waves that occur over a given period. Rogue waves can disable and sink even the largest ships and oil rigs."  A rogue wave can generate thousands of tons of force.

The rogue wave affected the Polaris after another incident on one of the expedition ship's Zodiac boats. According to Larry Mah's Facebook page one day ago (public post), "There was a major accident with a zodiac with injuries. Evacuation options are limited, and the weather is deteriorating. So, we are returning to Ushuaia at top speed. The Drake Channel has gale force winds (30-60 MPH) with waves 15-20 feet high. The next 600 miles is going to be a very rough ride!!" There were many ships in the channel and according to passengers, the female captain of the Polaris performed well.  The passenger who had the leg injury on the zodiac boat required surgery which could not be performed on the vessel, so the captain made the decision to return to the mainland. According to passengers, an explosion occurred on the zodiac boat sending a number of passengers about 3 feet into the air and some into the frigid waters, including the injured woman. 

Viking issued a second statement about the Zodiac boat incident, saying: "On November 28, the Viking Polaris deployed a small boat with six guests and one crew member near Damoy Point, Antarctica. On this trip a guest sustained a serious but non-life-threatening leg injury while on board the small boat and was taken to the medical center on the Viking Polaris."

"Following a detailed diagnosis by the ship's medical team, the decision was taken for the ship to immediately sail to Ushuaia so that the guest could receive additional medical care from a shore-based hospital," it continued. "The guest is now recovering shoreside in Ushuaia and will then return home; Viking is continuing to support them during this period. We are committed to the safety and security of all our guests and crew, and we are investigating the cause of the incident."

The area of the ship affected was the port side forward. Our sources tell us several rooms were affected on a lower deck, with broken and missing cabin windows witnessed from many guests when tendering to and from the ship in Ushuaia. The broken and missing windows led to significant water and debris intrusion into the affected cabins affecting passengers' ability to get out of their cabins. Interior walls between cabins collapsed contributing to the wall of debris encountered by those with the most aft cabins. Most passengers’ personal belongings were left behind in the affected cabins (which are actually 8 rather than 6 as we reported earlier) and many are without anything, including passports. Fear of a second wave was paramount and passengers felt evacuation from the cabins immediately was necessary. Viking is assisting with local embassies to secure transport home from Argentina and some passengers are just getting back their belongings that were underwater for days. The crew actually gave shoes to some of the passengers whose belongings were underwater. Salvage of the affected has been performed by the submarine captain on board who is a salvage expert.

The deceased passenger was a  62-year-old woman who was hit by broken glass when the wave broke cabin windows late Tuesday during a storm, Argentine authorities said. The victim was confirmed as Sheri Zhu, 62, by Secretary of the Ushuaia Federal Court Melina Rodriguez. The victim lived in California, had family in Taiwan and her husband sustained injuries as well. Little is still known about the deceased woman. 

Passengers on the nearby Ponant ship described 8 meter swells and over 50 knot winds. 

Most of the cabins affected on Deck 2 have this appearance on Viking Expeditions' website. 

December 1, 1800 PM

The Viking Polaris returned to Ushuaia and is now moved out of the port. Passengers are being disembarked and flown home. Passengers we know are reporting good support from Viking. We will not provide their entire ordeal to respect their privacy. Here is the Viking Polaris position at approximately 1800 ET today courtesy of

While the ship has moved away from port, the current sailing and the one following, to depart December 6, 2022 are canceled. 

This occurs after two US passengers drown during a zodiac excursion less than two weeks ago on another expedition cruise line. Additionally, the Scenic Eclipse has a lesser known incident, without injury, when a expedition submarine was unable to surface for two hours.

When we sailed Viking last, in the Summer of 2021, we felt the crew were exceptional in dealing with the COVID-19 issues our ship experienced. Certainly this is no comparison to what the affected passengers on board the Polaris experienced.  This story is important to us because we have been considering this itinerary with Viking Expeditions. 

Respectful updates as we hear them. This incident reminds the two of us how we take our safety and health for granted sometimes, and we are truly grateful for our health and each other. 

December 5, 2022

All affected passengers' passports have been returned. A large amount of their possessions have been returned, and passengers are drying them out as best they can, using heated floors and boot warmers. Many electronics are beyond salvaging due to water damage. Most passengers who were not affected have flown home, others who had passport issues, about 30 passengers, have now been flown from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. 

December 12, 2022

The Polaris is docked in Punta Arenas, Chile undergoing repair. The boarded up windows are evident in this photo. 

December 13, 2022

The Polaris has passed inspection and the next itinerary on December 17, 2022 is a go! The affected windows are covered with a temporary structure which can be seen close up in this video. Passengers who were booked in those rooms have been moved to deck 4. 

December 19,2022 

The CEO of Viking is on board the current Polaris sailing. 

February 2, 2023 

It’s not surprising that the us is investigating the recent events in Antarctica.