CruiseLaw Meets LexBlog

Last week I met Kevin O'Keefe.  Kevin is the genius behind LexBlog which designs and creates law blogs and supports legal bloggers like myself.  If you like the design and functionality of this blog, thank Kevin.  His Tobacco Road - Beer for Bloggersteam designed it.  

Kevin's company also runs LexMonitor, the best round-up of legal blogs around, as well as LexTweet which tracks lawyers who use Twitter.  Kevin also has an award winning blog "Real Lawyers Have Blogs" which is something every ahead-of-the-curve-lawyer should read.

Kevin was in Miami speaking at a convention and announced an-after-hours "beer for bloggers" get together at Tobacco Road via his blog and Twitter page.  For those of you not familiar with Miami, Tobacco Road is the oldest bar in Miami, with liquor license no. 001, and a relaxing place to hang out.

It was a nice time. Some of the lawyers drove for a couple of hours to Miami to make it. 

Legal marketing expert Paula Black, virtual law firm DirectLaw entrepreneur Richard Granat, international business lawyer Santiago Cuerto, estate planning lawyer David Shulman, business lawyer and Gulf War hero Juan Antúnez, and criminal defense lawyer and super-blogger Brian Tannenbaum all showed up. 

Kevin is an inspiring story. He was a real life lawyer and trial attorney in rural Wisconsin and then created Prairie Law (which he sold to Lexis).  He hit his stride by moving to Seattle to create his LexBlog success.  His company supports something like 3,000 law firms, from blogging law students to solo lawyers to the Am Law 200 big law firms.  LexBlog is an impressive network and helps small law firms like mine be the proverbial big fish in the small pond.  

I remember last year when I was searching for a company to host my blog.  I emailed and then spoke to the people at LexBlog.  I thought that I was interviewing them to see if they were going to meet my blog requirements.  Half-way through the 30 minute conversation, I realized that Cruise Law Meets LexBlog - Jim Walker - Kevin O'Keefethey were interviewing me to see if I met their criteria. 

There are a lot of top notch blogs and lawyers on the LexBlog platform - like Bill Marler's Blog which has expanded to include the NoroBlog and the Food Poison Journal which have touched upon cruise ship norovirus outbreaks. 

My first blog on Lexblog was on September 10th last year. Things started slowly.  Maybe only 20 or 30 people a day stumbled on to my blog, probably by accident.  But I'm now 171 days and 173 blogs down the road (who's counting?)  Last week alone, over 14,000 different people viewed over 25,000 pages on this little blog.  Not bad.  

More importantly, the blog has been cited in national law journals, local newspapers in Florida, and news sources in Europe and the Caribbean.  

Thanks LexBlog.   And next time I'll buy the beer at Tobacco Road.    

 

To see what other lawyers are saying about Kevin and LexBlog, consider reading "God Bless Mrs. O'Keefe" (pretty funny) by a South Carolina trial lawyer, David Swanner.

 

 

Credits:

Tobacco Road   Kevin O'Keefe

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

A headline in the NoroBlog intrigued me - "Cruise Ships Causing Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?" - indicating that norovirus is "often associated with cruise ship sickness."  The article also raises the question whether cruise ships can infect the local port communities. 

The cruise industry's PR people have been fighting the connection between norovirus and "cruise ship sickness" for many years.

Sick Cruise Passengers - Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships Last week the cruise industry's trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), wrote a letter to the Daytona Beach News Journal complaining that a writer made a connection between the virus and cruise ships and concluded that this is an illness that happens "often" on cruise ships.

CLIA's letter to the editor stated: "the overwhelming majority of norovirus outbreaks take place at land-based locations, such as schools, day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes."  The one comment to the letter, from a passenger on the norovirus infected Queen Victoria cruise ships, dismissed the letter as "more cover-up from the cruise spokes people."

CLIA has made the "its-a-lot-worse-ashore" argument before.  But arguing that it has a better record than day care centers and nursing homes seems counter-productive to the cruise line's image.  Of course day care centers with a million kids who have not mastered the art of going to the toilet and washing their hands and then wipe their runny noses all over the toys are going to be a hotbed of viruses.  And anyone entering a nursing home filled with incontinent geriatrics can instantly smell feces entering the facility.

The Food Poison Journal (affiliated with the Noroblog) reports that "outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, and norovirus in particular, are not new to the cruise industry.  In fact, the phenomenon prompted the CDC to create and oversee a "vessel sanitation program (VSP)." 

Arguing against the label "cruise ship sickness" is a waste of time.  The real debate should be whether sick cruise ships pose a health hazard to the local port communities.

In the past six weeks, the United States considered blocking the arrival of the Queen Victoria because of a norovirus outbreak - U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?  - and a week earlier the U.K. considered impounding the Balmoral cruise ship because of a similar outbreak -  "Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug.

Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship - with over 400 norovirus infected passengers - could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of CLIA cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don't care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Even the worst run child care facilities and nursing homes don't do that.

 

Credits:      

Sick cruise passenger           Bill Mahler's Food Poison Blog

Cruise Cleaners              Telegraph.co.uk  "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers

Passenger Reported Overboard From Holland America's Rotterdam Cruise Ship

The on line web information portal CruiseJunkie.com is reporting that a passenger may have gone overboard yesterday from the Rotterdam cruise ship.

The report is based on information received from a passenger on the Holland America Line cruise ship. 

Rotterdam Cruise Ship - Overboard - Missing PassengerCruiseJunkie.com is operated by Dr. Ross Klein, a cruise industry expert who has, among other pages, a large web page called "Events At Sea - All The Things That Can Go Wrong On A Cruise."  Dr. Klein reported yesterday:

I have been informed that a passenger jumped from the M/S Rotterdam today and was recovered deceased at about 5 pm local time. The ship will be in Costa Rica tomorrow.  This account has not be confirmed or reported by the media.

in addition to Dr, Klein's site, a comment on the popular on line cruise community CruiseCritic.com mentions the incident under the topic "Man Overboard on Rotterdam???"

 ". . . A "man overboard" was reported to the bridge, just before noon. What was done, then was to chart where the person went overboard and turn the ship around to that area. By 2:00 PM, an airplane came to circle around and look for anything in the water. By 4:00 PM, the plane had spotted something, and the ship headed there. By 5:00 PM, a tender was dropped into the ocean and found what was believed to be the person. Many of us were on deck 3, and as the tender returned to the ship, the Captain asked that all on deck 3 please, out of respect, to leave the deck. I don't know anything else. We will find out soon if we'll miss our port, tomorrow. I don't know if we'll get information about the person. There was an announcement, earlier, for someone in cabin x, to please call the front desk immediately. Tonight is formal night and I don't think anyone wants to dress up."

We previously reported on a HAL handling of an overboard passenger in an article ""Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea."  That case involved passenger Amber Malkuch.  HAL quickly called her disappearance a suicide.  This surprised not only Ms. Malkuch's friends and family, but dumbfounded the Alaskan State Troopers who had yet to review photographs and video, conduct interviews or analyze toxicology reports. 

It will be interesting to see how HAL handles this situation.  By not issuing a press statement, it looks like HAL is trying to keep the incident secret.  

Dr. Klein reports that there have been over 130 cruise overboard in the last 10 years. How many more have not been reported by the cruise industry? 

February 27, 2010 Update:

CruiseJunkiereports: "Around 10 A.M. this morning, while breakfast was going on, one guest, supposedly of cabin 1905, jumped from the outside deck. The jump was apparently witnessed as there was an immediate man overboard call and the ship manouvered quickly and then anchored and a search happened. The ship staff searched for hours, and then about 5 pm, they recovered the man's body. The ship has been under code red for 6 days for norovirus and the staff was already under huge stress." 

CruiseCritic reports that the overboard passenger was a member of the CruiseCritic on line community.
 

 

  

Credits:

Rotterdam cruise ship                 jimg944 Flickr Photostream

Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship

The departure of Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship, scheduled for today, has been delayed so that the cruise line can make a last ditch effort to try and kill the norovirus which sickened over 20% of the passengers and crew during its last cruise. 

Celebrity is offering vouchers to accommodate the passengers or staying overnight in Charleston.

Celebrity Cruises - Norovirus - Mercury Cruise Ship - Sick Ship?The ship is now scheduled to depart on Saturday at 5 PM.

A large number of newspapers and blogs are covering the plight of the sick cruise ship.  The highly respected Food Poison Blog by super-lawyer Bill Mahler covers the problem in an article "Over 400 Sickened with Norovirus on Cruise."  NPR (my favorite) has even gotten involved with a story entitled "Stomach Flu Hits Caribbean Cruise Ship."

Celebrity Cruises president Daniel Hanrahan issued a statement: "I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this delay will cause our guests on Celebrity Mercury's next sailing . . . the extra time we are taking to sanitize the ship will help prevent any illness from affecting the next cruise."

Let's hope so.

 

February 27, 2010 Update:

Passengers who live more than a 2 hour drive from Charleston arte staying in area hotels paid by the cruise line, and credited $50 for expenses incurred.  According to the Post and Courier, the cruise's itinerary was shortened by a day, with a call in Key West canceled. Passengers who sail today will be given on-board credit for two-days worth of their fare and a 25 percent discount on future Celebrity cruise bookings

 

Read other Cruise Law News articles regarding the sick Mercury cruise ship.

 

Interested in other cruise - norovirus articles?  consider reading:

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets! 

Cruise Ship Bathrooms, Norovirus and Medical Care

"Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug

U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?

 

 

Credits:

Mercury cruise ship and passengers             AP (Mic Smith) via Washington Post 

Costa Europa Collides With Pier in Egypt - Three Crew Dead, Passengers Injured

Newspapers are reporting that the Costa Europa cruise ship collided with a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt yesterday.  The collision ripped a hole in the hull of the ship and flooded a crew cabin, resulting in the death of three crew member who, unidentified, are described as "an Indian, a Honduran and a Brazilian."  (Technically speaking, when a vessel strikes a pier, it is called an "allision" - "collisions" occur between vessels). 

Costa Europa Collision - Egypt - Passenger and Crew Injury and DeathFour other people were injured.  Some reports indicate that another crewmember and three British women passengers were injured.  Other newspapers say that four passengers were injured. 

Pursuant to the terms of the passenger's cruise tickets, if the passengers need to make a claim for medical expneses and compensation, they are required to make their claim in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Cruise line officials are quoted as saying that "strong winds" pushed the cruise into a pier as it tried to dock at the port.

It seems that every time a cruise ship hits a dock, the cruise lines blame it on the wind as opposed to poor seamanship at the helm.   

The cruise ship was sailing on an 18-day cruise from Dubai to Savona.

The photographs of the Costa Europe show the vessel listing heavily on its port side, in order to keep water ouring into the large opening on the starboard side. 

A photograph of the extensive damage to the crew quarters in shown is an article in the U.K. Sun newspaperCosta Europa - Damage to Crew Cabin - Collision

The passengers were disembarked, and Costa Crociere is arranging for them to be flown back to their countries of origin.

 

Credits:

 

Costa Europa  cruise ship -  AP (Hussien Talal) via Mail Online

Damage to crew cabin of  Costa Europa - U.K. Sun Newspaper

 

 

 

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident

In our first article regarding the excursion tour bus accident in Tortola, we explained that while Princess Cruises sent "customer care" representatives to the island to meet with the survivors of the crash - the cruise line also sent Miami defense trial lawyers to defend the cruise line's interests. 

The Cruise Line Gets Lawyered Up

The attorney heading up Princess Cruises' defense is Jeffrey Maltzman from the Maltzman Foreman law firm in Miami. Mr. Maltzman is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer who routinely defends cruise lines and excursion companies in high profile trials. 

Jeffrey Maltman - Cruise Line Defense LawyerMr. Maltzman is best known for his successful defense of Cunard Line and Fun Water Tours following the crash of an excursion truck in Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI) in November 2005.  The case  is highlighted in an article appearing in the National Law Journal entitled "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack." 

The article explains that 8 cruise passengers from Cunard's Queen Mary 2 visiting Tortola were injured when the brakes of the excursion truck failed, causing the vehicle to crash in the side of a mountain.  The issue of the brake failure and whether the excursion company and cruise line knew of the brake problem were the central focus of the trial.  As the article explains, millions of dollars in compensation were at issue.    

Although the article explains that "odds were overwhelmingly against" the cruise line at the beginning, Mr. Maltzman and his partner, Jeffrey Forman, successfully defended the case.  Mr. Foreman is quoted as saying "there's a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they're greedy . . .  that usually has an impact.  So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."  The tactic worked, as the jury decided against all of the cruise passengers and Mr. Maltzman won a defense jury verdict for the cruise line and excursion company.  

Princess Cruises Denies Brake Malfunction?

Mr. Maltzman has been on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week interviewing the passengers injured in the latest excursion crash in Tortola.  His firm has what is called an "Emergency Response Team" where defense lawyers are scrambled to respond to cruise disasters.

Some passengers suggest that a "customer care" representative from Princess and Carnival introduced Mr. Maltzman as an "independent investigator" (although Mr. Maltzman identified himself as a lawyer for the cruise line).    

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess Cruises - Brake Failure?Mr. Maltzman is reportedly telling some of the passengers that the tour bus' air brakes were checked out by investigators and no problems were discovered.  It is less than clear whether the investigators were retained by the police or the defense lawyers on behalf of the cruise line. 

The defense strategy is already taking shape - the cruise line will deny that the accident was due to brake failure or any defect in the excursion bus or, if there was a problem with the brakes, neither the driver nor the excursion company or cruise line knew about it beforehand.  Princess Cruises will argue that it should not be responsible because this was just an isolated incident due to the momentary carelessness of the bus driver. 

Or in other words, the bus driver may turn out to be the "fall guy."

The Bus Driver Gets Lawyered Up

BVI Platinum News, which is providing excellent coverage of this tragic accident, reports that the bus driver, Roland Allen, retained a defense lawyer, Stephan Daniels.  BVI News reports that Mr. Allen is also known as "Crash Dummy."   

Roland Allen - Bus Driver - Tortola Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesMr. Daniels appeared in Court yesterday in an effort to try and get his client out of jail, following his arrest two days ago.  In an article entitled "Mechanical Problems May Have Caused Tuesday's Accident,"  BVI News describes what the bus driver's lawyer argued to the Court:

"Daniels told the court that his client was not aware that there was a brake malfunction when he was going down the hill, however as he applied the brake, he realized that it had failed.

Further, Daniels told the court that once Allen realized what was occurring, he tried his best to avoid the accident by gearing down, while attempting to brace the vehicle to the side of the hill to slow down the bus.

Daniels explained that the vehicle collided with the foundation of a church ruin and toppled. The Lawyer said that if this was not done, the accident could have been worse.

He said that it was clearly a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the accident and his client was not reckless."

The Court nonetheless declined to release Mr. Allen, but will consider the matter further at a hearing on March 2nd.

The Cruise Continues

Although none of the passengers have even ended their ill fated cruise, the defense lawyers for the cruise line and bus driver are posturing to defend their clients.  Princess Cruises has an excellent lawyer in Mr. Maltzman who has won this type of case before.  The bus driver should hope that his defense lawyer is equally talented.

 

Credits:

Jeffrey Maltzman       Superlawyers

Excursion Bus           BVI Platinum News

Roland Allen             BVI Platinum News  

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

13WHAM in Rochester, New York has a story on Aaron Rumphrey, who passed away during a shore excursion in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.  He had been cruising with his parents.  Written by Elizabeth Schubert, the article is entitled "Easy, Gracious Man."

Aaron RumphreyMr. Rumphrey attended classes at the Cobblestone Arts Center in Farmington, New York. His teachers and friends there remember him as "just a sweet young man." 

The director of the center is quoted as saying that Mr. Rumphrey "was very creative, loved stories, creating stories, had a great sense of humor. He would always make jokes with the other students."

The article also mentions that the center is planning a tribute for Mr. Rumphrey, and may create a scholarship or name a dance studio at the center after him.

 

 

 

Credits:

Article                              Elizabeth Schubert 

Photograph                   13WHAM Rochester, New York

Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

Around 450 passengers and crew are sick with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea aboard Celebrity's Mercury as the ill cruise ship completes its inaugural cruise to the Caribbean from the port of Charleston, South Carolina.  The cause of the illness is unknown.  The cruise ship will sail again from Charleston tomorrow, and many new passengers don't want to set foot on the ship.

This is not what the city of Charleston or the thousands of passengers who paid for a relaxing cruise to the Caribbean bargained for.  

The media is focusing on this nauseating story. The Baltimore Sun has an article "More Than 400 Sick Aboard Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship" (the comments are brutal).  The Consumerist's headline says it all: "Caribbean Cruise Ship Turns Into Diarrhea Nightmare Vessel." 

Cruise Ship Sickness - Norovirus - Pepto Bismol?In ABC News' story "400-Plus Passengers Get Sick on Cruise," the cruise line's PR spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, says that the ship doctors are giving passengers anti-nausea and diarrhea medication such as Pepto-Bismol . . . "   

Pepto-Bismol?  

The cruise line is in overdrive trying to clean the cruise ship. The web site of a local news station in Charleston carries the story "Mercury Crews Scramble to Clean Cruise Ship."  The ship's crewmembers are "conducting some 'enhanced cleaning,' according to Ms. Martinez. 

"Enhanced cleaning?"  What the heck does that mean?  And what exactly are they cleaning?

The cruise line has not even established the type of pathogen or virus involved and its source.  Large scale sickness like this on a cruise ship can come from numerous sources - such as a contaminated water supply, improperly prepared food, or norovirus in bathrooms. The Norovirus Blog reports that cruise ship norovirus outbreaks are linked to the ship's bathrooms, and we addressed this issue last year in our blog "Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!"

But so far, there is no indication that norovirus in the ship's bathrooms is the culprit.  If the ship's water supply is contaminated, all of the external cleaning in the world is not going to eradicate the problem.

And at this point, it does not look like the cruise line knows, or at least it is not disclosing the source of the problem to the public or the next 1,800 passengers who are boarding the cruise ship tomorrow.  Instead, the cruise line is implying that its the passengers who are the problem because they are not washing their hands, rather than the ship which is infecting the passengers.    

This week our office has received a number of inquiries from passengers who are frightened to sail on the Mercury tomorrow.  They wonder whether they can cancel their cruise and get their money back.  Unfortunately, the cruise line's lawyers have spent years crafting terms and Celebrity Cruises - Mercury - Sickness - Illnessconditions in the passenger tickets which protect the cruise line, not the consumer.  And if the passenger has travel insurance, the insurance company probably won't pay if the passengers cancel because they are not sick (yet) and the cruise ship will sail again tomorrow, come-hell-or-high-water.    

The cruise line is promising to give sick passengers a voucher "based on the number of days a guest is isolated divided by the total of cruise fare paid."  Huh?  These nice people are sitting on a crapper in their cabins, vomiting into a waste can on their lap.  All they get is a voucher for partial payment for another cruise?  That's a crappy deal, excuse the pun.

What a predicament for these folks.  Tomorrow, the cruise line will unload the 1,800 passengers from the Mercury and load another 1,8000 back on.  And the Mercury will set sail again, this time for a 10 day cruise to Mexico, Belize, the Bahamas, and Key West. 

We wish the passengers luck.

And don't forget to take a large bottle of Pepto-Bismol with you . . .

 

February 25, 2010 Update:

The Washington Post reports that the CDC is confirming the presence of norovirus on the cruise shp.  

Our prior article on the Mercury's history of shipboard illnesses: Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again

February 26, 2010 Update:

Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship

March 4, 2010 Update:

The Baltimore Sun reports that "about 55 guests have been treated for gastro-like symptoms" on the Mercury cruise ship.

 

Credits:

Pepto Bismol     Shakespeare's Monkey (fark.com)

Itinerary                Celebrity Cruises  

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola

The police in Tortola arrested the driver of the excursion bus used by Princess Cruises to transport cruise passengers from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship to the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" tour sold by the cruise line. 

BVI News Online reports that the police took Roland Allen, age 32, of Baughers Bay, Tortola BVI, into custody last night and charged with "causing death by dangerous driving."

Tortola BVI - Bus Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesWe reported on this tragedy yesterday in an article "Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess."

The article mentions that the deceased passenger, previously identified as Aaron Humphrey, has bean identified as Aaron Rumphrey, from Honeoye, New York. 

Mr. Rumphrey and his parents had previously been hiking with 17 other passengers from Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  When the tour bus ran off the road, Mr. Rumphrey was ejected through the front windshield.  The tour bus did not have either seat belts or shoulder harnesses.

Cruise lines like Princess are legally obligated to investigate and audit excursion companies used  for the tours advertised and sold by the cruise lines so that the passengers are reasonably safe.  Using a bus with no seat belts or shoulder harnesses is unreasonably dangerous, particularly given the road conditions in Tortola.   

An article today on WHEC.com describes the young man as "kind and friendly."  Mr. Rumphrey had been a student at the Cobblestone Arts Center in New York in an arts program for students with developmental disabilities.  The article describes how he would make other students laugh and inspire them.  A supervisor at the program is quoted saying "he was a great guy.”

February 25, 2010 Update:

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

 

Photo Credit:

Cruise excursion bus            BVI Platinum News

 

Passenger Paid Settlement in Legionnaires' Disease Cruise Case

CruiseCritic reports that a passenger whose husband died after contracting Legionnaires' Disease during a cruise aboard Fred Olsen Lines' Black Watch (who would name a cruise ship, Black Watch?) received a settlement after three years of litigation.

Audrey Heath, from the U.K. sailed with her husband, Robert Heath, on the Fred Olsen cruise ship when a number of passengers were affected by the illness while onboard. The cruise line ended the cruise early, Mr. Heath went to see his local doctor, who performed no tests, and sent Mr. Heath Legionnaires' Disease - Cruise Deathhome with antibiotics. He died at home the next day.

An inquest ruled that the cruise line exposed Mr. Heath to Legionnaires' Disease, and his doctors failed to provide appropriate medical treatment or admit him to a hospital.  Following the decree relating his death to Legionnaires aboard the cruise ship - the cruise line and shoreside doctors agreed to a settlement. 

Ms. Heath received a £70k settlement (a little over $100,000), a small amount for wrongful death by U.S. standards. 

The Fred Olsen Lines are in the press quite a bit for many cases of norovirus, which also can be traced to improper cleaning protocols on the cruise ships.

We have written about Legionnaires' Disease in prior blogs:

Liberty of the Seas & Legionnaires' Disease - Disease of the Seas? 

Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas
 

 

Credits:

Black Watch cruise ship photograph                   Milford Haven Port Authority website

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

CruiseCritic reports that an excursion tour bus taking passengers from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship crashed in Tortola.

In an article entitled "Tragic Bus Accident on Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion,"  the CruiseCritic website reports that the cruise sponsored tour bus was headed to a "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach." 

Princess Cruises Excursion - Tortola - Tour Bus AccidentThe tour bus (photo left) "went off the road and flipped earlier today.  Of the 20 passengers onboard, one person was killed and two others were seriously injured."

According to CruiseCritic, the injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, while the other passengers were taken back to the cruise ship. The passenger who died was a 24-year-old man from Rochester, New York, on vacation with his parents, who were also on the tour.

BVI News Online reports that the deceased passenger is Aaron Humphry who died at at Peebles Hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

The BVI News reports that twenty cruise ship passengers from the Caribbean Princess were on a tour bus descending onto the Windy Hill Road on Tortola when the driver struck an embankment and the vehicle overturned.

Seven passengers were taken to the hospital while the other 13 passengers were assessed at the scene and taken back to the cruise ship. Five were treated and discharged while one passenger has been retained for a fractured shoulder bone. The unidentified driver was treated and released.

Princess Cruises issued a statement that it is "providing support to the family during this difficult time."  Behind the scenes, Princess Cruises is also sending a team of lawyers from Miami to Tortola to begin to defend the cruise line's interests.  The same Miami cruise line defense lawyers who traveled to the Star Princess when it caught fire near Jamaica in 2006 are flying to Tortola today.

The Princess Cruises web site describes the tour bus as an "open air safari bus."  (However, the bus in the BVI News photograph appears to be an enclosed bus).  Princess Cruises describes the excursion as follows:

"This excursion visits two of Tortola's most popular attractions--Sage Mountain National Park and one of its beautiful beaches . . . Board your open-air safari bus and drive along the island's scenic Ridge Road to Sage Mountain National Park  . . . 

Dominica truck excursion crash - Celebrity CruisesThis is the second serious excursion vehicular accident in the last year. 

Exactly one year ago today, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises'  Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica (photo left).  We are representing passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.

Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard.  It remains to be seen what the local police's investigation reveals about this particular accident.

It is also likely that the defense lawyers for the cruise line have already hired their own experts to take a look at the vehicle with an eye toward defending the cruise line.  Most excursion companies associated with the cruise line are required to maintain liability insurance with U.S. Tortola excursion crash - Princess Cruisesinsurance underwriters.  These underwriters work with the cruise line to maintain a united defense against any passenger who is injured in excursion accidents like this.    

The BVI Platinum News has a slide show of detailed photographs of the damages excursion bus after the accident, which are available online.  

February 24, 2010 Update:

The deceased passenger has been correctly identified as Aaron Rumphrey.

The police arrested the driver of the excursion bus - Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola.

 

Credit:

CruiseJunkie.com

Photograph of Tortola bus excursion accident     BVI News Online

Photograph of Dominica excursion crash         thedominican.net 

Photographs (slide show) of Tortola excursion bus                 BVI Platinum News 
 

Florida Charges Travel Agencies for Selling Bogus Trip Insurance Policies

The Sun Sentinel reports that Florida charged travel agencies in the state with using unlicensed agents to sell bogus trip insurance policies through a company called Prime Travel Protection Services, of Colorado.  Prime Travel, which apparently was never authorized to do business in Florida, went out of business in 2009 and is in liquidation.  Hundreds of Florida travelers were left with unpaid claims.

Cruise Insurance - Travel InsuranceMany of the consumers bought the policies before going on cruises.  Obtaining valid insurance for cruise vacations is a prudent thing which we recommend cruise passengers consider before cruising. 

Prime Travel claimed that it offered "trip protection" and not travel insurance, which must be approved by regulators and underwritten to ensure claims will be covered.  The consumers who bought the bogus policies had no recourse when their claims were not paid.

The state warned the agencies to stop selling unauthorized insurance or face penalties including a $50,000 fine.  The newspaper reports that the six agencies cited this week offered policies through Prime Travel or its affiliates.  They agencies include:

According to the Sun Sentinel, the agencies charges include JB Travel Inc. of Boynton Beach, St. Lucie West Travel of Port St. Lucie, Ahoy Cruises of Jacksonville, Diana's Travel South of Spring Hill, Sandra Demore / CruiseWithSandy of Port Orange, and Four Seasons Tours and Cruises of Largo.

The newspaper also reports that in the past year, state officials cited additional agencies for similar problems.  One of the agencies, Palm Coast Travel of Lake Worth and its affiliate Smartcruiser.com, were charged with initially giving travelers AccessAmerica trip insurance policies, then transferring customers to companies not authorized in Florida to offer coverage - including Prime Travel.

When the media began reporting on the bogus policies last year, Palm Coast Travel filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the aggrieved consumers who complained, as well as veteran travel writer, Christopher Elliott, who covered what appears to be a scam in his widely respected travel website "Elliott."  

Suing travel writers for uncovering consumer fraud stories appears, in my opinion, to be retaliatory in nature and counter-productive.  Mr. Elliott was ahead of this story in 2008 when he warned consumers of the Prime Travel policies in an article "A Travel Insurance Mystery: Who is Prime Travel Protection Services?"   

Mr. Elliott indicates that he made a public records request for information regarding the state of Florida’s case against Palm Coast Travel, and will release the information on his website.  This will be interesting reading.

 

If you are considering buying travel insurance, consider reading:"6 Tips to Avoid Travel Insurance Scams."

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that cruise lines are trying to avoid Alaska's strict waste water laws. 

The Juneau Empire reports that the cruise industry is complaining to lawmakers in Alaska that the limits on ammonia are too strict.  The cruise industry's "Alaska Cruise Association" - comprised of Miami based cruise lines - is again posturing to reposition its cruise ships if they cannot make a deal which permits them to pollute. 

The cruise industry is known for its strong arm tactics of threatening financial harm to the port cities if they can't get their way around environmental regulations. The newspaper quotes a consultant for the "Alaska Cruise Association, Mike Tibbles, as saying: 

"If this stands, ship deployments could be altered and port times may be reduced," he said. "The result could very likely be fewer economic opportunities for our businesses."

Alaska passed strict wastewater regulations in 2006 for sewage, graywater and other treated water dumped into state waters.

The president of the "Responsible Cruising in Alaska" organization, Chip Thoma, believes that the cruise industry's history of polluting Alaskan waters proves the need to regulate cruise ship discharges: 

"The cruise ships engaged in a great deal of deception to hide their malfeasance." 

Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Bunker Fuel - Emissions

The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible.  Cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuel and dump millions of gallons of sewage.  If left unregulated, the cruise industry will save money by avoiding implementing new technologies.  We have addressed cruise line pollution and the battle to protect Alaska's waters from the cruise industry's discharges of sewage in prior articles:

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information    

Cruise Air Emissions - Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship                      AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again

Sick passengers - Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship The Associated Press reports that hundreds of passengers have fallen ill with a stomach ailment aboard the cruise ship Mercury, operated by Celebrity Cruises, which is sailing in the Caribbean.

Over 300 of the 1,800 passengers are experiencing upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. Another 25 or so crewmembers are also ill. The Mercury left Charleston, South Carolina on February 15th and this is the first cruise from Charleston.

The PR person for Celebrity / Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise ship's medical facilities were "overwhelmed" and another doctor and nurse boarded the Mercury in St. Kitts.

The cruise line did not report what virus or pathogen was involved, but the cruise ship dropped samples off in Puerto Rico for testing. The ship is scheduled to return to Charleston on Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recorded two outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness on the Celebrity Mercury last year. The CDC investigated outbreaks on the Celebrity Mercury in  January and February 2009.

The CDC has a web page which tracks "Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships."

Celebrity's Mercury was in the news just last week when a Hazmat team and ambulances arrived at the port in Baltimore after 6 crewmembers became ill after inhaling fumes while welding on the cruise ship. The crewmembers may have poisoned due to carbon monoxide as reported in the press, although there was no carbon monoxide detected when the cruise ship arrived in port the following day. The cruise ship then repositioned to Charleston for this cruise.

We reported on the incident - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship.  There has been no follow up stories on the cause of the illnesses or the condition of the sick crewmembers.

February 24, 2010 Update:

Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

 

Credits:

Artwork          Maxim magazine

Family of Kipi Holcomb: No Foul Play In Death of Carnival Cruise Ship Passenger

KHOU.com from Houston, Texas reports that the parents of Kipi Holcomb do not believe that their daughter's death on the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship was the result of foul play or that her boyfriend, Jeffrey Aaron StultzKipi Holcomb - Aaron Stultz - Death - Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Ship, had anything to do with her passing.  

In an article entitled "Family: No Foul Play in Carnival Cruise Ship Passenger's Death," FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap is quoted as saying that the investigators haven’t found any reason to suspect foul play.

Ms. Holcomb’s family is disturbed that there is a cloud of suspicion cast over their daughter’s boyfriend, Mr. Stultz, and they want to dispel rumors that he had anything to do with the young woman’s death.

"I don’t want any suspicion cast on Aaron at all," said Sharron Holcomb. "As far as any earthly party having anything to do with her death, absolutely not."

The Holcombs also believe that Carnival mistreated Mr. Stultz aboard the cruise ship. The newspaper reports that "according to the Holcombs, once Aaron found their daughter lifeless and called for help, he was taken to what they described as a blood-stained room. They said he was locked inside and wasn’t allowed to make a phone call. 'They treated him like he was guilty,' said Sharron Holcomb."

The Holcombs said that while they don’t know how their daughter died, they’re confident foul play wasn’t involved.

The KHOU.com story was compiled from information from by Courtney Zubowski / 11 News, T.J. Aulds / The Daily News  and John Tompkins / The (Brazosport) Facts. 

In a previous article, we reported on the wildly conflicting stories surrounding Ms. Holcomb's death in an article entitled "FBI Investigating Death of Passenger Kipi Holcomb on Carnival Ecstasy."  One local newspaper reports that there were clear signs of foul play involved, but this conclusion appears questionable at this point.

A local news channel in Texas also reports "Family: No Foul Play in Cruise Ship Death" and has a number of photographs of Ms. Holcomb.

The medical examiner in Galveston will be conducting toxicology tests to arrive at a final conclusion regarding the cause of death.

 

 

 

 

Credits:

Photograph            Facebook

Video                        KHOU.com

Coast Guard Searches for Crewmember Missing From Pacific Venus Cruise Ship

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a press statement that it is searching for a crew member from the cruise ship Pacific Venus, which was sailing from Hawaii back to Yokohama, Japan.

The 24 year-old crew member was noticed missing at approximately 2 p.m., on Saturday, February 20th, after he failed to show up for his post aboard the cruise ship. The Master of the Pacific Venus' Pacific Venus cruise ship - missing crewmember called the Coast Guard in Honolulu at 5 p.m. Saturday to report the missing crew member and to say the ship had turned around to look for him.

The Pacific Venus spent several hours Saturday afternoon searching for the crewmember before sunset in an area where he was last seen been aboard the cruise ship.

The Coast Guard deployed two C-130 long-range search aircraft to search for the overboard crewmember.

The Coast Guard also reports that a "Good Samaritan" vessel, a Japanese vessel Nippon Maru, answered a call to help through the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program, and searched for the crewmember.

A newspaper in Hawaii reports on the story in an article entitled "Coast Guard Continues to Search for Overboard Cruise Ship Crew Member" and indicated that the Coast Guard will continue searching for the overboard crewmember.

 

Credit

Pacific Venus cruise ship                      ykanazawa Flickr photostream
 

48 Students Rescued On The High Seas After Concordia "Class Afloat" Ship Sinks

Concordia Sailing Ship - Sinking - Students Rescued48 students aboard the S/Y Concordia found themselves in lifeboats bobbing in the Atlantic for two days after their sailing yacht sank 550 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the students, mostly Canadian high school and first year college students with some Americans, were part of a Canadian "Class Afloat" program aboard the  Concordia "tall ship."  Class Afloat provides high school and university students an opportunity to study while at sea. 

The three-masted vessel capsized in strong winds on Wednesday, leaving the passengers and crew stranded in the Atlantic, clinging to life rafts for two days. 

There remains an issue why it took so long for rescue vessels to arrive.  The newspaper reports that a distress signal went out about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday - but it was not until 5 p.m. on Thursday before the Brazilian airforce spotted the life boats.  The rescue was not complete until Friday morning.

The Concordia is registered in Barbados, which is the country now responsible for the investigation.

Concordia - Sinking The newspaper reports that all of the rescued kids donned black baseball caps stitched with "F42" referring to the naval vessel which delivered them safely to shore in Brazil.

After learning that all of the students and crew were rescued, the president of the school rightly announced:

"We've lived through a miracle at sea."

 

Credits:

Rescued students             The Associated Press (via The Telegram)

Concordia sailing yacht     West Island College (via CBS News)

Video                                     The Associated Press

 

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 February 21, 2010 Update:

The Calgary Herald published the following time line regarding the rescue of the students and crew aboard the Concordia tall ship:

Wednesday, Feb. 17:

2:30 p.m. - a distress signal goes out from the Concordia

Crystal Pioneer - Concordia Rescue9 p.m. - Brazilian navy receives alert.

Navy officials spend 18 hours confirming what ship sent the signal, whose flag it was under. Confirms location, attempts radio contact with the Concordia. Contacts the school - is informed the last contact with the ship did not indicate any problem.

Thursday, Feb. 18:

2:30 p.m. - Brazilian navy asks air force to do a flyover of the area and alerts merchant ships in the region. Stormy seas prevail.

5 p.m. - Brazilian air force spots lifeboats. 

9 p.m. - Merchant ships Crystal Pioneer (photo above) and Hokuetsu Delight (photo below) told to go to location. Stormy seas, bad weather continue.

Friday, Feb. 19:

4 a.m. - Crystal Pioneer spots lifeboats - due to darkness and high seas, waits to pluck the survivors to safety.

Hokuetsu Delight - Concordia Rescue7 a.m. - The relieved passengers start boarding the Crystal Pioneer and Hokuetsu Delight.

9 a.m. - Last lifeboat located, passengers transferred to Hokuetsu Delight.

Saturday, Feb. 20: 

All 64 students, teachers and crew arrive safely in Rio de Janeiro

Sources: Nigel McCarthy and The Brazilian Navy (via Calgary Herald)

 

March 5, 2010 Update:

There are some excellent photographs of the lifeboat and the students being rescued on line at the Amver blog.

 

Credits: 

Crystal Pioneer    CIShipping.com Cayman Registery

Hokuetsu Delight    Shipspotting.com (Andreas Schlatterer)

FBI Investigating Death of Passenger Kipi Holcomb on Carnival Ecstasy

Kipi Holcomb - Death - Carnival Ecstasy  Multiple new sources are reporting that the FBI is investigating the death of a 32 year old woman from  Brazoria County, Texas aboard the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy

Kipi Holcomb was sailing with who is described as either her fiance or her newlywed husband, whose identity has not been revealed.  Most news sources call the death "mysterious," although the Police News website in Galveston is reporting the death as a murder.  According to the Police News:

" . . .  a 32-year old Brazoria County woman and her fiancee set sail earlier this week from Galveston and she was dead when the ship docked in Mexico.  FBI Agents went to Mexico to conduct an investigation.  It was reported that the woman had been beaten to death and the primary suspect is the man she married aboard the ship.  Although FBI spokesmen have called the investigation routine, it is reported the woman's death was a homicide. The Galveston County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy and issue an official ruling in the death."

This sketchy article does not identify who, if anyone, stated that physical violence was involved or concluded that the death was a homicide.

However, another news source suggests that there were no signs of foul play whatsoever.  A local newspaper in Galveston, TheFacts.com, writes that:

"FBI Agent Pat Villafranca would release few details in the death of Kipi Holcomb, 32 . . . Holcomb’s body was found Monday on the Carnival ship Ecstacy, which set sail from Galveston on Monday, federal agents said. Her body did not have any visible signs of trauma, Villafranca said. An autopsy on her body began Saturday at the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office . . .  FBI agents boarded the ship at Progresso, Mexico, on Monday after Holcomb’s body was discovered, agents said . . . FBI agents said they do not suspect foul play in the death.

 

 

Ms. Holcomb apparently died last Monday and her death was reported to the cruise ship on Tuesday.  It is less than clear whether her body was removed when the cruise ship reached Mexico, or whether she was returned to Galveston.

No news source other than Galveston's Police News is reporting this as a murder.  The death of a healthy 32 year old woman is certainly unusual and the FBI rarely travels outside of the U.S. unless there is a reasonable basis to suspect that the incident involved a crime. 

If this is in fact a murder, it is the second such case on a Carnival cruise ship recently.  We previously reported on the death of a Carnival passenger last July aboard Carnival's Elation cruise ship.  Robert John McGill was charged with the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his wife, Shirley, who was beaten and strangled in their cabin.  Our article is entitled " Prosecutors May Seek Death Penalty In Carnival Cruise Murder Case."  

A commentator to MyFoxHouston.com says that a scholarship fund has been established in Ms. Holcomb's memory:

Kipi Wiley-Holcomb Scholarship Fund
Brazosport College Foundation for Scholarship
500 College Drive
Lake Jackson, TX 77566

February 22, 2010 UPDATE:

A family member submitted a comment (below) and a video link from a local news station where the parents expressed the belief that the incident did not involve foul play.  

Galveston's The Daily News is reporting that the medical examiner's initial results indicate no external signs of foul play.  In an artice entitled "No Evidence of Trauma in Cruise Ship Death," the newspaper writes:

""An initial forensic examination of a woman found dead aboard a cruise ship revealed no signs of traumatic injury, authorities said Monday.

Kipi Holcomb, 32, of Brazoria County was found dead Feb. 15 in her room after the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy left its home port of Galveston.

Upon the ship’s return to Galveston on Saturday, the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy, John Florence, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office, said.

'There was no evidence of trauma in an initial look Saturday,' Florence said, noting the investigation would continue today.

The cause of Holcomb’s death will be determined pending a toxicology report, which can take from two to three weeks, Florence said."

For further updates, please read: "Family of Kipi Holcomb: No Foul Play In Death of Carnival Cruise Ship Passenger." 
 

   

Credits:

Photograph 1:                saltwatersportsman.com

Video:                               myfoxhouston.com

 

 

 

Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Law - Miami Florida - Forum Selection Clauses

Miami is called the Cruise Ship Capital of the World.

Most of the major cruise lines are based in South Florida. Azimara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea, and Star Clippers all call Miami or Fort Lauderdale their headquarters.   

And if you are injured on one of these cruise ships anywhere in the world, the cruise lines require Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Law - Jim Walker - Cruise Lawpassengers to make a claim in South Florida - no matter where you live or what port you may have sailed from. 

Twenty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Carnival cruise line to enforce a "forum selection clause" in a passenger's ticket which requires passengers to file their claims in Miami, Florida.  The case is called Shute v. Carnival.  The Shute family was from Oregon and a family member was injured after sailing from Los Angeles to Mexico. 

The Shute family tried to file suit in Oregon.  Carnival moved to dismiss the case because there was a clause in the Shutes' ticket requiring that all lawsuits against Carnival must be filed in Miami, where Carnival in headquartered. The Shutes argued that having to travel several thousands of miles to Miami was an economic hardship.  And why should Carnival - which  registered its business in Panama to avoid U.S. taxes - have a home court advantage in Miami for every case?  But the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Carnival and ruled that the Shute family had to file suit in Miami and be prepared to fly here to pursue their case.

Since the Shute decision, all cruise lines have included "forum selection" clauses in the passengers' cruise tickets.  Most cruise lines require that the lawsuit be filed here in Miami. These clauses are legally binding and the cruise line will always enforce them. 

The passengers' cruise tickets also require that the passenger (or their lawyer) notify the cruise line of the accident and intention of filing a lawsuit within six (6) months of the accident and the lawsuit must be filed within one (1) year.         

If you are a passenger interested in further information, please consider reading:

Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Cruise Law Photos - Clients, Causes, Cruise Ships and Cruise Law Team  

 

If you wish to receive our blogs via email, please enter your email address to the left - or sign up for a RSS feed.  Thanks!  Jim Walker 

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Rochester, New York reported yesterday that a passenger was indicted for sexually abusing a thirteen year old girl during a cruise back in December of 2006.  The passenger is alleged to have threatened to throw the child overboard if she called for help.

Lucas George Wickes - Sexual Abuse - Disney Wonder Cruise ShipTwenty-four year old Lucas George Wickes (photo left), of Rochester, New York, was indicted for the felony offenses of sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse of a minor on the high seas. 

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York issued a press release last September entitled "Rochester Man Charged In Aggravated Sexual Abuse On High Seas Case." 

According to the press release, "on or about December 31, 2006, a 13-year-old female boarded a cruise ship departing from Port Canaveral, Florida to embark on a cruise with her family. In the early morning hours of January 1, 2007, after attending the teen nightclub, the female was walking around the decks with a couple of other teenagers when they were approached by the defendant who indicated that they should be returning to their cabins. The female followed defendant who took her to another deck and then forced her to take her pants off and perform oral sex on him, threatening to throw her overboard if she screamed . . "

We have written about the sexual assault of children in prior blogs:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Sexual Assault of Children on Cruise Ships - A Problem the Cruise Community Wants to Forget

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Should Travel Agents Be Liable For Falsely Representing That Cruises Are Safe For Kids?

Disney Wonder - Sexual Assault - Sexual Abuse - Minors  What is striking about the U.S. Attorney's press release and the news articles "covering" this story is that the name of the cruise line is not mentioned.  We see this quite a bit.  Law enforcement and/or reporters sometimes try and protect the cruise lines from bad press.  

Another website identifies the cruise ship as the Disney Wonder.

It is a real disservice when the name of the cruise line is kept secret.  Many parents have a false sense that their kids are safe on cruises.  We have learned of sex crimes like this on cruise ships, even on cruise ships which cater to families.   

 

Credits: 

Disney Wonder Kid's Club           MPR529 Flickr Photostream via Hub Pages

Princess Cruises Uses Surveillance Film to Kick Kids Off Cruise Ship for Throwing Food Overboard

While reading cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein's most excellent cruise site - Cruise Junkie - I found an excerpt of a letter written by a grandmother who was upset that her two grandchildren were booted from the Sapphire Princess cruise ship.  As it turns out, security personnel reviewing the Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Sapphire Princesssurveillance cameras spotted the kids throwing some food overboard

Dr. Klein found the conduct of the cruise line "outrageous" for no other reason than the cruise ship itself regularly discharges liquefied food waste as part of normal discharge operations. 

Indeed, as I have written about in prior blogs, this is more than a little bit ironic because  Princess Cruises has repeatedly violated waste water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.  In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

Princess Cruises ruined a family's vacation for some kids throwing a couple of chicken wings overboard while the cruise lines routinely discharges copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and nasty fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters?

Nuts!

While I agree that Princess Cruises' conduct is ridiculous, my perspective is a little bit different.

As we have written about in prior articles, a Princess Cruises' crewmember Angelo Faliva "disappeared" from one of the Princess cruise ships last November.  There are hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.  Yet the cruise line claims that it has no idea what happened to this young man?

Princess Cruises - Bridge Cam - Caribbean Princess Nuts! 

Now let me ask you this:  How can the Princess security kick some teenagers off a cruise ship after seeing them throwing some food overboard based on their surveillance cameras - and then claim that its surveillance cameras could not detect a 6 foot tall man going overboard?

Like the Coral Princess where Mr. Faliva "disappeared," the Sapphire Princess has lots of surveillance cameras, as well as wedding cams and bridge cams which you can see detailed images 5,000 miles away from the comfort of your home.  But the Coral Princess doesn't have a single surveillance cam of an adult man going overboard? 

Nuts!  

Does this cruise line destroy surveillance films when its crewmembers go overboard but arbitrarily use surveillance films to kick children off of its cruise ships?   

You decide.  Read some of the articles about the plight of the Faliva family, and then consider how this family on the Sapphire Princess was abused by Princess' selective use of the cruise ship's surveillance cameras: 

For Christmas, my husband and I gave our two grown sons and their families a cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire Princess departing and returning to Los Angeles. We were spending Christmas on the ship. It would have been the first time I had managed to get both families together in 20 years for the holiday. On Dec. 23, at sea between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, my two grandsons, age 13 ands 15, were in a cabin of another boy they had met on the ship and they had thrown some Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Emerald Princessarticles of food overboard including a fork. Apparently, they were spotted on camera by security.

The next day in Cabo San Lucas (Christmas Eve day), my son, his wife and the two boys were ordered off the ship by Captain Tony Herriott and had to pay their own way back to Los Angeles. Three other families whose sons were also involved were ordered off the ship. The Captain's actions devastated us all. Needless to say, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very depressing days for the seven of us that remained on board.

There is now a new Christmas Grinch out there and he is the Captain of a Princess cruise ship!

 

Credits:    Wedding and Bridge Cams             Princess Cruises

 

Maritime Rights of Princess Cruises Crewmembers for Injuries and Illness

Most crewmembers like their jobs.  They work hard but take time to enjoy the camaraderie that exists between the crew.  But when they bcome injured, and particularly if they are sent back home, they find it difficult to obtain medical treatment for their ship related injuries.

Princess Cruises - Crew - Maritime Rights - InjuriesMany crewmembers employed by Princess Cruises have contacted us to inquire about their rights after being injured or becoming ill on Princess cruise ships. 

Most crewmembers contact us via email after they have been sent home on "medical leave," but the cruise line refuses to timely provide them with medical treatment and payment of their living expenses.

Unfortunately, Princess keeps its crewmembers in the dark.  Most crewmembers do not understand these basic maritime rights:  

The Jones Act & the Right to a Safe Place to Work Aboard the Cruise Ship

The Jones Act is a U.S. law which requires maritime employers to provide their crew with a safe place to work.  Under this law, cruise lines must operate their cruise ships in a safe and prudent manner.  The types of cases which fall under the Jones Act include waiters slipping and falling in the galley, neck, back and wrist injuries due to carrying heavy trays, and back injuries due to heavy lifting. 

If a crewmember's injury is caused by the cruise line's negligence (even the "slightest degree of negligence"), the crewmember is entitled to make a claim for lost wages and tips, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and medical expenses (in the past and the future).    

The "Unseaworthiness" Doctrine - Strict Liability for Cruise Ship Injuries

Cruise lines are required to maintain and operate their cruise ships in a manner which does not cause injury to the crew employees.  If any part of the vessel is dangerous and causes an injury to a crewmember, the cruise line faces liability for paying compensation to the crewmember.  This liability exists without the necessity of proving that the cruise line was negligent.  A cruise ship can be found to be "unseaworthy" if there is insufficient training of the crew, an insufficient number of employees to perform the work, or the crew is required to perform the work in a dangerous manner.

Princess Cruises - Crewmember Rights - Illness and InjuryUnder certain circumstances, the cruise ship can become "unseaworthy" when a crewmember attacks or sexually assaults a crewmate, particularly if a weapon or date rape drug is used.

As is the case with Jones Act negligence, a finding that the cruise ship is "unseaworthy" entitles the crewmember to the full range of damages - ranging from wages and medical expenses to pain and suffering and mental anguish (inconvenience, depression, anxiety).

Prompt and Adequate Shipboard Medical Treatment

Crewmembers who become ill or injured are entitled to prompt and adequate medical treatment from the ship doctor and nurse.  If the condition cannot be treated satisfactorily on the cruise ship, crewmembers are entitled to seek medical treatment in the next port of call, including U.S. ports of call.  Crew employees often work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.  When they become injured or sick, unfortunately there is a mentality of the supervisors and officers that they "must keep working."  Often the crew's supervisors frown on complaints of being ill, injured, tired or mentally exhausted.

Sometimes waiters, bar staff and cleaners develop serious injuries carrying trays, lifting boxes, and working long hours.  Their injuries can become serious and permanent due if there is a delay in treating the injury.  Under the Jones Act, crew members have the right to seek compensation if their illness or injury is not treated in a timely and responsible manner. 

"Maintenance and Cure"

Cruise lines like Princess are required to pay the crewmember's living expenses (called "maintenance") and provide all necessary medical treatment (called "cure") when a crewmember is unable to work due to an injury or illness and needs to leave the cruise ship. Crewmembers are entitled to select their own doctor or switch to their own doctor if they are dissatisfied with the company doctor. 

"Maintenance and cure" is a well-established legal doctrine which has existed in the U. S. since 1820.  It can be dated back to the Medieval Sea Codes.  Under this doctrine, cruise lines are legally obligated to treat their crew as if they were their children needing medical help. 

We have found that Princess often does not pay living expenses or provide its crewmembers with medical treatment.  Sometimes the cruise line requires the injured crewmember pay for his Princess Cruises - Maritime Rights - Jones Actor her own medical treatment and then offer to possibly pay the bills later.  This violates the law.  As a practical matter, most crewmembers cannot afford to pay for surgeries or ongoing therapy.  The result is that the medical condition worsens and the crewmember experiences additional pain and disability.    

Under the "maintenance and cure" doctrine, crewmembers can seek compensation when the cruise line abandons or neglects in their home countries.  In addition to the damages under the Jones Act and "unseaworthiness" doctrine, crewmembers can seek compensation for additional pain and suffering and mental anguish, unpaid medical and living expenses, and attorney fees.  If the cruise line acted unreasonably, callously, arbitrarily, or capriciously, then the crewmember can seek "punitive damages" - designed to punish the cruise line for acting badly.        

Princess Cruises' Illegal "Employment Contract"

If you are a Princess crewmember reading this article, you probably have never heard of the Jones Act or the "unseaworthiness" and "maintenance and cure" doctrines.  That's because Princess does not explain these basic rights to you.  You can read your "employment contract" a million times, but you will never find any reference to these rights.

Instead, Princess Cruises claims that a crewmember must submit to "arbitration" (without a jury) in Bermuda, and only the law of Bermuda applies. Of course, the cruise line selected Bermuda law because Bermuda does not have a Jones Act nor does it recognize the legal doctrines explained above. 

Princess Cruises - Unseaworthiness - Crew rightsHowever, U.S. courts have found that Princess' "employment contract" and its "terms and conditions" which attempt to apply the law of Bermuda are illegal and unenforceable.  Princess does not explain this either to its crewmembers.          

About Princess Cruises - Doing Business in Florida

Princess Cruises is a cruise line headquartered in Santa Clarita, California.  It is well known  for the Pacific Princess which served as the cruise ship for the "Love Boat"  television program. 

Princess operates fourteen large cruise ships: Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Crown Princess, Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess, Star Princess, and Sun Princess - as well as three smaller cruise ships, Ocean Princess, Pacific Princess, and Royal Princess. 

Princess Cruises registered its corporation and flagged its cruise ships in Bermuda in order to avoid U.S. taxes and U.S. safety & labor laws.  But Princess has its headquarters in Southern California with a huge base of operations in Broward County, Florida.  It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Miami based Carnival cruise lines.  There are numerous lawsuits pending in Miami against Princess for injuries to Princess cruise employees around the world.  

We have handled claims against Princess Cruises involving passengers and crewmembers. One of the most publicized case involved the death of a passenger due to a fire aboard the Star Princess.  We represented the passenger's children in that tragedy and one of our clients testified before our U.S. Congress regarding fire safety issues.

 

Credits:

Photographs of Star Princess cruise ship   Jim Walker's Flickr page

Photographs of Princess crewmembers Princess Cruises Crew Members FaceBook Page  ("This is for all the people who work onboard Princess' ships and  . . .  lived for months on end in a prison cell they call a cabin, gotten drunk off of $1 beer and wine in the dungeon they call a crew bar.")

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship

Carbon Monoxide - Celebrity Cruises - Mercury Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that six crewmembers on Celebrity's Mercury cruise ship at the Port of Baltimore are being treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. 

Fire rescue officials took the the six crew members  to local hospitals. 

According to WBAL TV in Baltimore, the Baltimore fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said crews responded to the scene at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday to treat the victims.

Cynthia Martinez, the PR spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Cruises (the parent company of Celebrity Cruises) issued a statement that crew members were performing a welding operation on board the ship inside the engine room Friday. The members began to report respiratory problems and other medical issues after they completed their work and reported to the ship's medical facility.

A local ABC station reports that "at least 5 medical units, a Hazmat team, and an EMS Commander are currently at the scene treating the victims and taking carbon monoxide readings to Mercury Cruise Ship - Celebrity Cruises - Carbon Monoxide determine the air's quality."

The cruise line PR spokesperson also said: "Out of an abundance of caution, the ship staff contacted city fire and rescue, which responded Saturday to treat the 6 crew members and transport them to hospitals."   Ms. Martinez claims that all six crew members were walking when they entered the ambulances to go to the hospitals. 

The TV station in Baltimore also reports that a Hazmat crew is trying to determine where the leak was coming from.

Update February 14, 2010:

One of the writers at the online cruise community CruiseMates.com brought the following article to my attention: "6 Workers Sickened On Cruise Ship In Baltimore" written by the AP and published on the web site of a local CBS affiliate WJZ in Baltimore. The article contained the photo below.  It has  a little more detail and indicates that the Hazmat team did not find carbon monoxide on the ship: 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Mercury Cruise Ship - Celebrity Cruises"Baltimore City Fire and hazmat officials went on the ship and tested for CO and found nothing."

This does not appear particularly surprising, because the testing was done 12 to 18 hours after the suspected exposure.

Cynthia Martinez, the PR spokesperson for the cruise line, is attributed saying that the Mercury cruise ship can hold a couple thousand passengers.  The cruise ship was heading to Baltimore at the time of the incident. She indicated that the six ill six workers had been working in the engine room, welding pipes with welding gear Friday night at the time of the suspected exposure.

There have been no reports by the hospitals or the cruise line regarding the current medical condition of the ill crewmembers.  

The Mercury was cleared to sail to South Carolina and has no passengers are on it until they board in Charlston. 

 

 

Credit:

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship        Baltimore Sun

Hazmat photograph               AP  / CBS Baltimore affiliate WJZ 

Update on Missing Crewmember Angelo Faliva - a Story of "Pain & Incompetency"

An Italian blogger Stefano Nazzi provides updated information regarding the "disappearance" of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.

In his article entitled "Chi Indaga Sulla Scomparsa di Angelo Faliva?" Mr. Nazzi questions whether anyone is actually investigating Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  He characterizes the situation as Angelo Faliva - Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Princess Cruises an "ugly story" - one "of pain" suffered by the Faliva family and "incompetence and laxity" by the police in Bermuda. 

In theory, the country of Bermuda is suppose to be investigating the case, because Princess Cruises flags its cruise ships in that country to avoid U.S. taxes and U.S. labor and wage laws.  

The fact that Bermuda has no genuine interest in investigating crimes and mysterious incidents on Princess cruise ships is becoming increasingly apparent.  Princess Cruises operates its fleet of cruise ships out of its corporate headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.  The police in Bermuda are literally and figuratively in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, apparently doing little to provide answers for the Faliva family.

The Italian blog suggests that the police in Bermuda have still not inspected Mr. Faliva's three cellular telephones or his computer and camera. Nor have they examined the records of the cruise ship's surveillance cameras.  When Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, inquired into the delay, the police in Bermuda complained that they were busy with other matters.  They wrote that they felt harassed by Ms. Faliva and preferred to be left alone!

The blog also contains a comment by Chiara Faliva that her family believes that the Princess cruise ship knows more about her brother's death than it will admit.  And the authorities in Bermuda are providing no answers as the family's search for information approaches three months.      

She writes that "frankly I believe that persons on board the ship know what happened at my brother.  Besides the sadness, pain, and anger, I experience also disgust, amazement and incredulity . . ." by the attitude of the "investigating" authorities.   

Angelo Faliva (below, in the galley of the Coral Princess) was a happy and well liked chef who enjoyed working on the cruise ship.  How can there be no explanation provided by Princess Cruises?  

We have written many articles about the cruise line's malfeasance and the flag state's refusal to provide answers. 
  
Do you have information about this story?  Please contact Ms. Chiara chiara_faliva@msn.com

Angelo Faliva - Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Princess Cruises

 

Credits:

Photographs of Angelo Faliva      Chiara Faliva

Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Good things happen in three's.  That's what my Mom told me a long time a long time ago.  And so today, I affirm that lesson I learned as a child with the following three stories which warm my heart:

Life's a Cruise for Cancer Survivor, Lyn Burdon

Lyn Burdon - Life's A Cruise - Cancer SurvivorCancer is a bitch.  Anyone who has lost a family member, spouse, or friend knows what I am talking about.  But if you beat cancer, life is just about the most wonderful thing that can happen to a person.  And you don't have to come back and win the Tour de France either to believe what I am saying.

A story in the Australian website, the Cairns Post, introduces us to Ms. Lyn Burdon. Twelve years ago, Ms. Burdon was battling breast cancer. Sitting in a chemo chair, she "was thinking to myself, well my sons have grown up and my husband has died, what do I do with the rest of my life?" 

She feared that she would never fulfill her dream of going on a cruise. 

Well, the Cairns Post tells us that Ms. Burdon, age 62, having beaten cancer, just stepped off her ninth cruise ship.  Ms. Burdon "credits her cancer with giving her a new lease on life, helping her gain the strength and courage to buy an eatery business in Earlville, take up dancing lessons and of course, venture out into the wide world."

Ms. Burdon is the face of the "Cairns Relay for Life," which is an annual fund raising event hosted by the Cancer Council of Queensland, Australia. So far, Ms. Burdon and her charity has raised raise nearly $49,000.  Please click on the website and consider contributing.

Well done, Ms. Burdon!  Cruise on!

P.S. send us a postcard . . .

Thanks to the Cairns Post for such a great story.

Generosity Knows No Bounds for Carnival Cruise Passengers, John and Marilyn Detwiler

The turmoil and tragedy in Haiti are overwhelming.  We can all debate whether some of the billion dollar cruise lines are making half-ass moves that seem calculated to promote their own corporate image rather than making a difference helping Haitians in this time of crisis.  But out of the cynicism and hopelessness comes a story like this . . .

The Gettysburgs Times tells us of the story of Haitian crew member Daniel Joseph who was working as a cabin attendant on a Carnival cruise ship when disaster struck his country on January 12th.

John and Marilyn Detwiler - Daniel Joseph - Carnival Cruise - HaitiEarlier, Mr. Joseph had met John and Marilyn Detwiler of Pennsylvania during a cruise last November.  Both Mr. Joseph and the Detwilers are 
members of Church of God. 

When the Detwilers learned that Mr. Joseph's home in Haiti was destroyed, they invited him and his wife, Macula, and daughter, Maclaure, 7, to stay with them.  The Joseph family somehow traveled from the destruction of Port au Prince to Santo Domingo  to Fort Lauderdale to Cincinati and finally to Pennsylvania, by the end of January. 

The Gettysburg Times reports that the Detwilers obtained school materials for Mr. Joseph's daughter so she can be home schooled and they are helping Ms. Joseph obtain a green card so she can work.  Meanwhile Mr. Joseph, who has worked for Carnival for 13 years, will be returning to work on a Carnival cruise ship in April.

Mr. Joseph remains concerned about his parents and other relatives in Haiti.  Contributions may be sent to Church of God, 233 Carlisle St., New Oxford, PA 17350.

Well done Mr. and Ms. Detwiler!

And thanks to the Gettysburg Times for this touching story.

Return of the Prodigal Camera

BBC News brings us the happy tale of a camera lost overboard during a cruise but retrieved from the depths of the ocean and returned to its owner.

Barbara and Dennis Gregory, from South Africa, were sailing on the QM2 from New York to England in 2008.  When other passengers yelled that there were dolphins in the water, Mr. Gregory jumped up and his camera "bounced off his lap, across the deck and into the water with hardly a splash and it was gone."

Barbara and Dennis Gregory - Luke 15 - Prodigal SonMs. Gregory lamented "we were devastated. We'd lost every photograph from New York."  

But, as Herman Melville tells us in his classic novel Moby Dick, we live in a mutual joint-stock world.

Fisherman Benito Estevez, of Spain, caught the camera in his nets off the west coast of Europe. He wanted to trace the camera back to its owners, so he posted the pictures online.  Friends of Mr. and Ms. Gregory in the U.K. saw the photos from the camera and contacted them.  Mr. Estevez  commented that he could have easily thrown the water-logged camera back into the sea, but decided otherwise.  "I think it's because of destiny." 

This story, albeit about a camera, takes me to my favorite passage in the Bible, Luke 15:11-32, which reminds us of the return of the prodigal son (or daughter). 

"My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we have to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours is dead and is alive again; he was lost and is now found."

The loss of a camera, although insignificant, reflects the loss of experiences, of memories and, ultimately, of life itself.  The sea has swallowed many a life.  And even though involving a camera, this story is one of hope and redemption.  It tells us of life lost coming back from the sea to life.  

 

Credits:

Lyn Burdon                     The Cairns Post

The Detwiler and Joseph families       Gettysburgs Times

Ms. Gregory                                         BBC News                          

Carnival Passenger Dies During Paragliding Accident in Cozumel

A number of newspapers are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger from Philadelphia died while paragliding during a stop in Cozumel.

Joseph Job (Sajan) - Carnival Cruise - Paragliding The South Asian Mail reports that Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan), age 40, was paragliding with friends in Mexico when his harness broke and he fell into the sea. 

Mr. Job was a native of Thrissur, Kerala and became a U.S. citizen.

The Web Malayalee newspaper indicates that Mr. Job is survived by his wife and daughters. 

Every year many cruise passengers are killed or seriously injured during excursions in ports of call.  We have seen many accidents involving parasailing, zip-lining, snorkeling, diving, and renting jet skis in Mexican and Caribbean ports of call.  Compounding the issue is the generally inferior medical and rescue services in these ports. 

It is unknown whether the paragliding excursion was advertised and sold by Carnival.  

Update: February 12, 2010:

Cruise Critic contains a comment by a reader that the passenger was from the Carnival Imagination cruise ship.  The reader was apparently the first one to notify the family and Carnival:  

"Incident happened at around 5:00 and Carnival reacted at 7:30 PM. We informed on the emergency number given on Carnival Capers. Carnival Imagination security team acknowledge that there local agent (emergency no. on Capers is of this agent) goofed up in Cozumel." 

 

Credit:

Photograph of Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan)               South Asian Mail

Costa Victoria Passenger Goes Overboard During Excursion

A newspaper in Brazil reports that a passenger from Costa Cruises' Victoria cruise ship went overboard during an excursion while the cruise ship was off the coast of Brazil between Río de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Costa Cruises - Costa VictoriaEntitled "Una Turista Argentina Falleció Cerca de Río," the article reports that the passenger was from Argentina.  She had taken an excursion boat with other passengers to go to a beach to snorkel and dive.  The passenger went overboard during the trip, and her body was found hours later.

No information was provided to explain how the passenger went overboard.  The passenger's name was not released.  The article indicates that Brazilian authorities will be investigating and a report is expected in 90 days.

 

For updated information, please subscribe by typing your e-mail address in the box to the bottom left, or sign up for a RSS feed.

 

Credits:

Costa Victoria          Wikimedia Commons

 

Oasis of the Seas - Wow! - Another Cruise Puff Piece By the Miami Herald

An article this morning caught my eye: "Newest and Biggest Cruise Ship: Oasis of the Seas." The article contains the usual "wow-look-how-big-it-is!" style of writing which is most typically associated with travel agents.  You know, those travel agents doubling as authors whose interest Miami Heraldin describing this monster-of-cruise-ship is hopelessly intertwined with obtaining commissions by selling cruises. 

Then I realized that the article (appearing in a Dallas newspaper) was written by Jane Wooldridge who is the business editor of the Miami Herald.

I have written about the Miami Herald and Ms. Wooldridge in several prior articles: Miami Herald: Asleep at the Wheel Regarding the Cruise Industry and Miami Herald - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.

There have been an incredible number of newsworthy developments involving cruise lines over the past five years - missing passengers, high profile sexual assaults, endless pollution fines, fires, sinkings, and five Congressional hearings involving Miami based cruise lines. But the Miami Herald wouldn't touch these stories.  It did not even report on the passage of the first cruise crime bill in the 40 history of the cruise industry. 

The Miami Herald's writers never publish anything negative or controversial which might embarrass their cruise line friends.  Credible newspapers with real journalists are left to cover these legitimate stories - like the Los Angeles Times, the San Fransisco Chronicle, or the New York Times.

The Miami Herald sold out to the Miami-based  cruise industry long ago.  This latest article is just the same old cruise cheerleading that the Herald is known for.  Consider the gushing adjectives chosen in the description of the mega ship:  "wow ... amazing . . . Oasis of the Seas - Monster of the Seasrevolutionary."  Can you imagine a business editor anywhere writing such drivel? The article contained quotes only from other cruise enthusiasts, travel agents and the cruise line's CEO, Richard Fain. 

The spectacle of the Oasis of the Seas raises disturbing questions which I have mentioned in numerous articles. But you will find no hint of controversy in articles by Miami Herald employees who consistently write travel pieces designed to sell tickets for their cruise line advertisers.  

Is it just coincidence that the article uses the word "Wow" (caps in original), when the corporate mantra at  Royal Caribbean is "Deliver the Wow?"   

And the latest controversy of this Cloverfield-like-beast-of-cruise-ship sailing past the ruins of Haiti to the cruise line's "private destination" of Labadee seems to many like corporate malfeasance on steroids.  But the Herald will look the other way.

See no evil.  Hear no evil.  Speak no evil.  The tradition of the Miami Herald continues.

 

Credits:

Newspaper vending machine        Daquella Manera Flickr Photostream 

Oasis of the Seas                       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com

Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

I moved to New Orleans in 1980 to attend law school at Tulane.  I lived in an apartment 10 blocks from campus in the bottom of a two story shotgun house on Freret Street in Uptown.  A witch lived Dixie Beerabove me and insisted that she hang bird feathers over the transom of my front door.

Yes, New Orleans was a weird place, full of restless souls. I loved it.  Every night there was lots of live music at Maple Street Bar, Tipitina's, Snug Harbor and in the Quarter.  Studying was impossible, being a 21-year-old-student in a city which was an excuse for a 24-hour-party.

Talking about not studying, one of my best buddies was Mike Delesdernier, a LSU football guard, from Metairie.  Big Mike.  He was around 260 lbs and could outrun me for the first 30 yards. He came from a family of river boat pilots. A funny guy.  When he Achie Manning - Saintswas being sworn into the Louisiana Bar, a Federal District Judge asked him why went to law school rather than become a river pilot like his brothers.  His response - "afraid of the fog your Honor?"

Mike and I ate more oysters, crawfish and shrimp po-boys (dressed) and drank more Dixie beer than any 2 people in the history of the city.  Our favorite spot was Sid Mars by the 17th Street Canal.

Mike's dad was the Commissioner of the Super Dome - clearly a job with the best perks in the city.  We had access to the Commissioner's sky box, which was always full of lots of food, drinks, beauties, bookies, and infamous local politicians.

My first year in New Orleans, the Saints were 1 - 13.  The quarterback was a guy named Archie Manning.  Yep, Payton and Eli's dad!  My kids still don't believe me.  Some say Archie was the best quarterback to ever play in the NFL, but was cursed by having to play for the worse franchise in the league. 

The 1980 - 1981 season was brutal. Howard Cosell called the team a "disgrace" on Monday Night Football.  Half-way through the season, fans began wearing bags over their heads.  They called the team the "Aints."  

AintsMike and I watched a lot of losing games during my years there.  The franchise started in 1967.  It never had a winning season by the time I left in 1987 to come to Miami.     

When I arrived in Miami, the city was in love with Don Schula and Danny Marino.  The Miami Dolphins theme song played everywhere.  But I loved my Saints.  And I missed my oysters and Dixie beer with big Mike. 

So here we are 23 years later.  How things have changed.  Mike is married with three kids.  Sid Mars was destroyed, like my old house, by hurricane Katrina.  And my Saints are in the Super Bowl.

When people ask what I loved about New Orleans, the answer is always the same:

Oysters, Dixie Beer & my New Orleans Saints . . .

 

 

Cruise to Labadee® - More Champagne Darling?

There are lots of interesting blogs out there, one of them being Kenneth Cole's Awareness Blog, which contains an article "Cruise Boat Docks in Haiti."  It has the following political cartoon by Mikhaela Reid at her Flickr page, which pretty much sums up my view of spending several thousands of dollars to sail on a monstrosity like the Oasis of the Seas into an impoverished place like Haiti.

Labadee - Haiti - Colonialism

I have written a number of articles about Royal Caribbean's Labadee® boondoggle. It nauseates me to read the cruise line's description of sovereign Haitian land at its website:

On the north coast of Hispaniola, surrounded by beautiful mountain slopes and exotic foliage, sits Labadee®, Royal Caribbean's private paradise. This exclusive destination offers pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and spectacular water activities . . .

Royal Caribbean's relationship with Haiti seems predatory to me, although the cruise line's PR people are working overtime. The cruise line just announced a charity cruise with Reality TV star Amy Roloff - advertised as "little people . . . Big Ship!"  I am a big fan of Amy and her family, but this one of the weirdest things I have ever seen.  

If you buy a cruise on the Oasis of the Seas with a balcony, its $2,000 a person.  It's hard to imagine a couple handing over $4,000 to Royal Caribbean to sail to Haiti, just to spend hundreds more for a zip line and a wave runner to tool around in the cruise line's "private paradise."

That money could do so much good for the Haitians suffering on the other side of Labadee's barbed wire security fence.  

Labadee Security Fence

 

Credits:

Cartoon      Mikhaela Reid Flickr page 

Labadee security fence            Rudbeckia Flickr Photostream  "A Haitian view of Labadee"

International Cruise Victims - the Story of Angelo Faliva

The non-profit organization International Cruise Victims ("ICV") posted a story on its website regarding Princess Cruises crew member Angelo Faliva who "disappeared" from the Coral Princess cruise ship in November 2009.   

The ICV represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about disappearances on cruise ships and the cruise industry's lack of transparency. With several hundred members throughout the world, the organization advocates for legislative reform and provides support to victims of crimes occurring on cruise ships. For additional information about the ICV, please contact its president, Ken Carver.

Meanwhile Mr. Faliva's sister, Chiara, continues to seek information from any passengers or crew members who may have information. Ms. Faliva posted a request on a "Princess Cruise Staff" Facebook page:

PLEASE HELP ME: Hi, my name is Chiara Faliva, and I'm the sister of Angelo Faliva, the 31 year old Italian chef disappeared from the cruise "Coral Princess" the night of 25th November 2009, while the cruise was sailing between Aruba and Cartagena (Colombia). I'm looking for passengers that were in this ship that night . . . I just want to have some contacts with them. Please, please help me. My e-mail is:  chiara_faliva@msn.com. Thank you very much for your attention.

Angelo and Chiara are seen in this photograph in in happier times as loving brother and sister. 

Chiara Faliva - Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess Crew Member
 
We have written many articles about this latest "disappearance" and the failure of the cruise lines and flag states to provide answers. 
 
How can such a healthy and happy young man "disappear" without anyone at Princess Cruises knowing a thing?
 
Do you have information about this story?  Please contact Ms. Chiara chiara_faliva@msn.com or the ICV.
 
 
 
Credits:
 
Photograph    Chiara Faliva

 

Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

The Antigua Sun reports that two cruise passengers were attacked and robbed while ashore in Antigua yesterday after getting off a cruise ship. 

St. Johns Antigua - Crime - CruiseThe passengers were not identified but were described as a "British couple" who arrived in St. Johns yesterday.  They are sailing aboard the Fred Olsen cruise ship, Boudicca

The newspaper reports that the "daring daylight incident" occurred around 10:45 a.m. while the tourists were walking along Bay Street in the "Villa area" which is to the north of the St. Johns Harbour where the passengers disembarked. Three young men attacked the couple with "a piece of stick" and robbed them of a digital camera before fleeing. The couple was treated at the Mount St. John Medical Centre and then returned to the Boudicca.

Antigua's tourism officials already have their hands full following the highly publicized murder of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen who was killed in Antigua after disembarking from Star Clippers' Royal Clipper cruise ship.  This latest crime against a cruise tourist occurred while the executive members of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) were meeting with the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda and the local Cruise Tourism Association regarding cruise ships porting in Antigua.  In an article entitled "FCCA Team Gives Advise to Tourism Stakeholders," the Antigua Sun Florida Caribbean Cruise Association - FCCA - Antigua - Crimereports that the tourism and cruise people were discussing, among other issues, a "Crime Stoppers" forum when the robbery took place.

Although the media was invited to the meeting, no one would comment on the crime against the cruise passengers. 

Antigua has received a lot of unfavorable press over the last year following high profile murders of tourists.  One year ago, an article entitled "Tourist Murders, Robberies Threaten Antigua's Struggling Tourism Industry" labeled Antigua as "death island."  The article quotes the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas as stating ". . .  we have been asking for more security but all of our pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears."

Star Clippers recently announced that it would no longer stop in Antigua, due to concerns with crime.  Carnival stopped scratched Antigua off its itinerary last year, although it did not explain why.  Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises continue to make calls in Antigua.  

The cruise industry is big business in Antigua and Barbuda.  The Anitgua Observer newspaper reported earlier this month that cruise passengers spent around $48 million from November 2008 to April 2009, according to the FCCA.   

We have addressed the issue of crime against cruise passengers in the Caribbean ports of call in many recent articles:

Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

 

Credits:    

Photograph of St. Johns Antigua            Squidoo

Antigua tourism - FCCA meeting           ab.gov.ag (via eTurbo News - "Florida Caribbean Cruise Association meets with Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association"

Vote for Jim Walker @CruiseLaw for Shorty Awards in #Law

Friend & Foes - I am asking for your vote! 
 
I was nominated for a "Shorty Award" in the #law peoples' choice category. 
 
The official site of the Shorty Awards states that it honors "the best people and organizations on Cruise Law - James "Jim" Walker - Maritime Lawyer Twitter.  These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community."
 
Online voting is public and supposedly democratic, "culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 26 official categories as well as those in brand new crowd sourced ones."
 
I was nominated a bit late.  But, let's face it, i deserve it.  I'm just joking, or am I? 
 
To vote - click on the link here and vote for me for goodness sakes!  You have to give a reason for voting for me:
 
"I vote for @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . . 
 
So say something nice, like "because he looks like George Clooney" (not true), or "because he is a nice guy" (partially true), or "because his Mom & Dad are really nice people" (totally true).   It does not matter, just say anything clever.  I want to win this damn thing!  Don't screw this up - I am counting on you! 
 
I did the obligatory interview for the award which is below (I hope I sound clever):    
 
What's your best tweet?
 
Royal Caribbean sails to its trademarked fantasy island of Labadee® as Haiti suffers . . .
 
What are six things you could never do without?
 
Coffee, beer, & the 4 hours between the 2   .  .  .
 
How do you use Twitter in your professional life?
 
If it involves a cruise, you will hear it from me first.
 
What's your favorite Twitter app?
 
Tweetdeck.
 
Twitter or Facebook?
 
A machine gun or a pea shooter?  I choose Twitter.
 
What was the funniest trend you've seen?
 
Once it's a trend it's no longer funny.
 
What feature should Twitter add?
 
Video skype.
 
Who do you wish had a Twitter feed but doesn't?
 
My Dad, the master story-teller, 80 years young.
 
What are some words or phrases you refuse to shorten for brevity?
 
Corporate malfeasance, flag-of-convenience.
 
Is there someone you want to follow you who doesn't already? If so, who?
 
Rachel Maddow.
 
Have you ever unfollowed someone? Who and why?
 
Yes, a few of those Do NOT Pay for White Teeth people snuck into my tent.
 
Why should we vote for you?
 
I had big ears, buck teeth, and stuttered in grade school - now I just stutter.
 
Terms you wish would start trending on Twitter right now?
 
Saints Win Superbowl.
 
What's the most interesting connection you've made through Twitter?
 
Cruise passenger tweeting on the deck of a burning cruise ship.
 
Hashtag you created that you wish everyone used?
 
#cruiselaw.
 
How do you make your tweets unique?
 
Cruise law, cruise law, cruise law, no one does it as timely, consistently, or insightfully (my, I am modest).
 
What inspires you to tweet?
 
Herman Melville said something in Moby Dick about the mutual joint-stock world we live in . . .
 
Ever get called out for tweeting too much?
 
Not so far, I assume people just leave the party if they don't like my rants.
 
Shorty Awards140 characters of advice for a new user?
 
Don't type in caps it is a sign of insanity.
 
How long can you go without a tweet?
 
1/2 circulation of the earth.
 
What question are we not asking here that we should?
 
Who should win the Shorty award other than you?
 
Who do you admire most for his or her use of Twitter?
 
@CruiseVictims - check it out.
 
Why'd you start tweeting?
 
I wondered what everyone was doing with their blackberries on TV during Obama's State of the Union speech.
 
Has Twitter changed your life? If yes, how?
 
Twitter intensified love/hate: my mother-in-law thinks I lost my mind, my kids think I'm brilliant.
 
What do you wish people would do more of on Twitter?
 
Use Twitter as vehicle for donations to non - profits.
 
How will the world change in 2010?
 
What makes you think the world will change?
 
What are some big Twitter faux pas?
 
Saying anything twice, selling anything, saying anything twice.
 
What will the world be like 10 years from now?
 
A ball of confusion, just like the world is today hey hey .  .  .
 

OK.  Thanks for reading.  Vote for me and I will appoint you to my cabinet, or maybe to be the Ambassador to the cruise ship League of Nations, or I'll send you a special gift, or  . . . 

Hey, I remember my friends . . .   

 

Shorty Awards

Antiguan Murder Suspect in Death Of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Held Without Bail

The Antigua Sun newspaper in Antigua reports on the preliminary arraignment of Tishara Daniel who is charged with the murder of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen in Antigua.

The Antigua Sun contains the first photograph of Mr. Daniel.

Trishara Daniel - Antigua - Muder Trial - Nina Nilssen

The article contains rather bizarre details of the suspect's clothing and shoes and what is described as nervous fidgeting by the defendant.

Mr. Daniel was held without bail and sent to prison waiting trial.  His lawyer can petition a higher court for bail.

His attorney is identified as Dane Hamilton Jr.

This will be a trial which will receive a lot of attention in the U.S. over the course of the next year. 

We have had a number of clients victimized on cruise ships and in ports in the Caribbean.  Obtaining a guilty verdict involving a crime against a U.S. citizen in a Caribbean courtroom is not as easy as it may seem.  There are many talented defense lawyers throughout the Caribbean.

Don't underestimate a dedicated and experienced defense lawyer versus local prosecutors, for a second. 

Our experience has been that jurors are sometimes more sympathetic to the local island citizen than the U.S. victim.  Perhaps this sounds cynical, so be it.  

We hope that this is not the situation with this case. But without a doubt, this will be a long and exhausting process for the families involved. 

 

Credit:

Tishara Daniel               Antigua Sun

Letter of Thanks By Family of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen

The following is the statement of the Nilssen family, issued today:

We, the family of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen, welcome the news that the police force in St. George, Antigua Barbuda led by Corporal Marlon Proctor have arrested and charged Tishara Daniel of Sweets Village, Antigua with the murder of our daughter. We are thankful for your respect for our family's privacy at this difficult moment and will not be available for interviews. Our expectation is that the Antigua Barbuda justice system will convict and sentence this killer to the maximum punishment available.

During our horrific ordeal following Nina’s murder, the people of Antigua treated us with respect, grace, and kindness. We would like to thank the Antiguan Ministry of Tourism for their generous hospitality; Corporal Proctor and his team of investigators, Assistant Commissioner of Police Jacques Ouellette, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Neal Parker for their diligent work. Although we do not know their names, we would also like to express our gratitude to the witnesses for playing a big part in the capture of this murderer.

We are especially grateful to our home communities of Taos, NM and San Francisco, CA for the incredible outpouring of love and compassion during this difficult time.

Nina was an adventurer and a free spirit and she is now on the ultimate adventure.

We ask that those wishing to honor Nina send donations to the Peruvian organization ANDES (Asociación para la Naturaleza y Desarrollo Sosentible), which works for land rights Nina Nillsen - Donation - Q'eros - Perufor indigenous communities and promotes sustainable development in the Andes. They have set up the Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Fund which will provide resources for the Q'eros people, who were very special to Nina, and other indigenous communities to establish Vilcanota, the world's first spiritual national park, to forever protect their lands and traditions in the face of large-scale mining development and to share with visitors the serene and sacred beauty of the high Andes.

To make a donation in honor of Nina, please visit http://www.taoscf.org or mail your check to PO Box: 1925, Taos, NM 87571. For more information about ANDES, please visit  http://www.andes.org.pe.

 

 

 

 

Photograph of Ms. Nilssen                 San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate online)