by Jim Walker of cruiselawnews.com
One of the cruise stories I have followed closely this year is the tragic story of a couple from Nebraska who perished due to a fire in their cabin aboard the La Estrella Amazonica, a luxury river cruise ship on the Peruvian Amazon.
The Hammer daughters, Jill and Kelly, attribute the cause of their parents’ deaths to the absence of basic safety features aboard the river cruise ship, which International Expeditions of Alabama stated they designed, built and owned. But the ship, the daughters contend, lacked functioning in-cabin fire alarms, safety-rated power strips, and a crew trained in fire suppression and life-saving techniques. Moreover, the Hammer children believe that International Expeditions (IE) has demonstrated that it’s more concerned with its marketing image than the circumstances that killed their parents.
According to the daughters, they hired experts to inspect the ship after the fire, but IE refused to cooperate.
“A team of experts inspected the ship on April 27th, despite IE’s attempts to block that inspection. Rather than having the ship at the agreed-upon meeting spot, IE sailed hours upriver to a location which was not accessible by road. A seaplane had to be chartered for the inspection team to get on the boat. Although IE agreed that the team could have unlimited access to the ship and unlimited time, IF allowed the team only 3 hours and 45 minutes on the ship and permitted them to see only a few select cabins. Furthermore, IE did not allow the team to see several portions of the ship, and denied the team access to the historical records from the fire control panel and surveillance videos.”