Royal Caribbean Bars Pregnant Passenger, Then Apologizes

News sources in Canada are reporting that Royal Caribbean barred a woman from cruising with her family after she admitted that she was pregnant but didn't have a note from her doctor stating that she was fit to travel. 

Global Toronto states that Michelle Ligori, her husband and their two sons were booked aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas out of Fort Lauderdale.

According to the television station, the following exchange took place between Ms. Ligori and a cruise line representative. 

Oasis of the Seas"The girl at the counter said, ‘Any chance you're pregnant?'" Ligori said. "And I was taken off guard and said, ‘Yes, I found out a few days before we left,' and she said, ‘Do you have a note?' She told us you cannot get on without a note."

The station further states that Ligori was positive on a home pregnancy test but she had not seen her family doctor yet. She and her husband did not want to say anything to family members or their two young sons because the pregnancy was at the very early stages. She was in compliance with the cruise line's pregnancy restriction which prohibit cruising after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

"We were treated like parasites," Ligori said of Royal Caribbean.

Ms. Ligori scrambled to obtain a doctor's note but the cruise ship sailed. The couple spent $1,200 for additional hotels, taxi fares and a flight for her family to catch the cruise in the Bahamas two days later.

Royal Caribbean initially refused to compensate her until the media began covering the story. When the case went public, the cruise line contacted the family to offer an apology and refund them for the missed days and their expenses. 

We have written about cruising while pregnant before: Pregnancy & Cruising: What To Expect If You Are Expecting.

 Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Baldwin 040

 

 

From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: 58 Years of Justice Denied

Michael Moore tweeted this evening:

"Had a gun-toting Trayvon Martin stalked an unarmed George Zimmerman, and then shot him to death . . .  DO I EVEN NEED TO COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE?"

I am sick of young black men being killed with impunity.

J.W. Milam, Roy Bryant, George Zimmerman - they are all the same.

Are we still stuck in the days of Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta of 1955?

Photo Credit: Jim Walker - Money Mississippi

Trayvon Martin - Emmett Till

The Left Wing Conspiracy Against the Evil Cruise Industry & George Bush

Are there any Rush Limbaugh fans out there?

Today's blog may be of particular interest to you if you are.

It seems that Rush doesn't like the criticism voiced against the cruise industry as the Carnival Triumph was towed back to Mobile last week. He does not like the references to the fact that cruise lines are incorporated in foreign countries to avoid taxes, labor laws and safety regulations.

As you can read in the transcript here of his show, he quoted everyone who made a critical comment of Rush Limbaugh Cruise Ship DiatribeCarnival on the CNN broadcasts.  He mocked Erin Burnett, Howard Clark, Donny Deutsch, Martin Savidge. He even quoted me, for goodness sake, when I was on a CNN show as a set-up to his talking points:

JIM WALKER:  "Foreign-incorporated companies that are essentially registering their operations overseas to avoid US taxes."

Rush then launched into a classic diatribe, mocking the criticism of the cruise industry::

RUSH: "Yeah, but look at what they do. "They register these ships outside the US. They don't pay any US taxes. The cruise ship passengers have no rights. They're basically slaves -- and if there's sewage on the walls? Big whoop. We'll tow you in when we get a chance -- and after we get you, the bus that we transport you in will break down, and then for all your trouble we'll give you a refund and a 15% discount on the next cruise of your choice. What a bunch of rotten SOBs!" 

He eventually explained his argument that:  

"Make no mistake. Make no mistake. The whole point of this was to impugn the entire cruise industry and this particular cruise line as having some linkage to Bush." 

Rush then rambled on with his radio broadcast trying to tie in his diatribe about the alleged left-wing conspiracy against cruise lines and George Bush to his rant against women and Hispanics and farm workers and President Obama and Reverend Wright. After a few minutes I had no idea what he was talking about except that he somehow implicated me in some type of conspiracy against George Bush.

I suppose that it's funny to be accused of being part of such a clandestine plot. I must be a secret agent or master spy or spooky sleuth or member of an illegal coalition against America, according to Rush. I suppose that criticizing a major corporation or participating in anything not officially sanctioned by a corporation is an act of conspiracy, rebellion or Rush Limbaugh Taxestreason.

Why is it that ultra-conservative Republicans love cruise lines which pay no taxes?  Last summer, Newt Gingrich disappeared from his Republican Presidential campaign because he could not resist a luxury cruise aboard a foreign flagged cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

I have never reconciled the maniacal bashing of President Obama for somehow not being "American" enough with the hard core Republican love of the tax-avoiding-foreign-incorporated cruise industry.

At the bottom of Rush's web page I could not help but notice a banner ad featuring Rush posing for a company that fights paying taxes to the federal government.

Money Mississippi & the Murder of Emmett Till

Emmett Till Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday is a time to reflect on Reverend King's legacy and stories of overcoming racial hatred and injustice.

As Dr. King organized and led marches for equal rights in the South, he was fighting prejudice against black Americans which had lasted generations.  

Over the course of the 100 years before Dr. King began his crusade, landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases like the Dred Scott Decision (1857) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) had officially designated black men and women as the chattel of white slave owners or, even after slavery long ended, second-class citizens under the "separate but equal" apartheid system which institutionalized racism. In 1954, the Supreme Court over-ruled the "separate but equal" doctrine in the Brown v. Board of Education case, holding that the doctrine was "inherently unequal."  But states like Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi continued to openly discriminate against blacks in all aspects of education, employment and life.  It was in these states where Dr. King had his work cut out for him.    

Stories of racists murdering African-Americans, including children, in the U.S. in the 1950's and 1960's Bryant's Grocery Store - Money Mississippimay seem like ancient history, but many of these events occurred during my childhood. None of the stories should be forgotten.

The death of 14 year old Emmett Till is one story that has haunted me for years. Emmett was an African-American boy from Chicago whose mother, Mamie Till, sent him south for the summer months. Emmett lived with his uncle, Reverend Mose Wright, in a small house outside of the town of Money, Mississippi, a dozen miles or so north of Greenwood.

Money is the tiniest of towns, bordered to the west by the Tallahatchie River and to the east by a railroad track separating the town from endless miles of cotton fields. In the mid 1950's the town of Money consisted of a large cotton gin, a few tin-roofed buildings, and a church. Bryant's grocery store was a focal point in the little town. It was frequented by the local residents including the families of black sharecroppers.    

I used to spend parts of my summers in a similar town in Mississippi called Morgan City, which was a dozen or so miles south of Greenwood.  Like Money, Morgan City had a large cotton gin, a church and some stores. It was north of the town of Belzoni (pronounces bell-zone-na) where my great grandfather served as the mayor and ran the Emmett Till post office around 1902. 

During the summer, my grandfather would drive me and sometimes my brother and sister from south Arkansas to Mississippi to visit my Uncle Bob and Aunt Jessie. Other than fishing for brim with a cane pole, there was not much to do except swing from a tire hung from an oak tree and play with my uncle's coonhounds who lived under the front porch of the family's wooden farm house. At night, our entertainment consisted of listening to the crickets & cicadas which lived in the cotton fields which surrounded the house, and trying not to sweat in the un-airconditioned old wooden house.

Morgan City, like Money, was a completely segregated society in the 1950's and 1960's. I remember the men and women who worked in my uncle's cotton fields entering my uncle's house only through the back kitchen door and drinking only out of large Mason jars used for canning vegetables.  

Delta towns like Money and Morgan City were (and remain) part of the most impoverished region in the United States. In 1969 the award winning book Still Hungry in America by Robert Coles (with photographs by Al Clayton) chronicled the poverty crippling the black community in the delta of Mississippi. The book focused on Belzoni. (NPR returned in 2006 to Belzoni in 2006 and found that nothing Roy Bryant - J.W. Milan - Emmett Tillhad changed). This part of the country was the last place where schools in the U.S. were integrated and African-Americans were permitted to vote. As a child I could see that things were not right. But it was only later that as a student of history I fully understood that the Mississippi Delta was the epicenter of the KKK, racial lynchings, and the murder of civil rights activists.

The town of Belzoni was still litigating against black voter registration as late as the the mid 1970's, some twenty years after one of the first civil rights leaders, Reverend George Lee, was gunned down in the street in front of the Belzoni courthouse. His murderers were never arrested, even though the murder occurred in broad daylight (my photo of the site is here).   

So it was in these dangerous delta days in Mississippi that Emmett Till found himself as a child in the summer of 1955.  On August 28th while his uncle preached at a Wednesday evening Bible study, Emmett and his southern cousins walked into Money and stopped at Bryant’s grocery store. Ignoring his mother’s instructions about the behavior expected of blacks in Mississippi, Emmett bought some candy from the white woman behind the counter. While leaving the store, he said something like ”Bye, Baby.” Other accounts suggest that he may have whistled at her. 

When Roy Bryant, the husband of the woman from the store, returned to Money from his truck driving job, he and his half-brother J.W. Milam, 6' 2'' and weighing 235 lbs, drove over to Uncle Wright's house armed with pistols. Mamie Till - Emmett TillThey took “the boy” from his uncle and disappeared with Emmett into the night. The two men beat, pistol-whipped and tortured Emmett over the course of several hours. They finally shot him in the head. The men dumped Emmett in the Tallahatchie River with a 75-pound gin fan secured with barbed wire around his neck.

Emmett's body was found in the river by some boys who were fishing. There was a rush to bury Emmett and hide the spectacle of his tortured body. But his mother, Mamie Till, transported her son's remains to Chicago. She held an open-casket funeral so the world could see her son's mutilated, bloated body. 

History shows that instances of racial violence are usually followed by injustice in the legal system. Emmett's story is no different.  Emmett's uncle showed the courage to overcome racial slurs and death threats to attend the criminal trial of Bryant and Milam.  He rose during the trial and pointed squarely to Milan as one of the men who took Emmett away. But this was Mississippi in 1955.  The all-white male jury quickly acquitted the two white men of kidnapping and murder of the black boy.  You can read the trial transcript here. After they were acquited, Bryant and Milam were photographed laughing with their wives and, later, smoking a cigar.

Roy Bryant - J.W. Milan - Emmett Till The injustice to Mamie Till and the black community became even more unreal when, a year after the trial, the half-brothers confessed (for money) in Look magazine to the crime and laid out the horrific details, which you can read here.  

I returned to Mississippi in 2008 after over 45 years. My mother accompanied me and directed me to many places that I would have forgotten. My great grandfather's grave site has been vandalized (photo here). The stores in Morgan City and Belzoni which were not abandoned looked old and run down. My uncle's Bob's farmhouse was bulldozed after a tornado hit Morgan City in the 1970's. The huge oak tree where we played as kids was nowhere to be seen. I somehow still looked for Uncle Bob's coondogs, and the tree-swing where I played with my sister.  

Mom and I drove up to Money to see Bryant's grocery and pay our respects to Emmett. A train rumbled down the tracks as we headed into town. I thought of Mamie Till kissing her son goodbye before placing him on a train in Chicago for his fateful trip south, 53 years ago.

The cotton gin in Money is closed now. All that's left is a closed post office and a few houses here and there, and a church.  We drove over to the location where uncle Wright's house was located, now long gone. We drove across the bridge over the Tallahatchie River (my photo here) and said a prayer for Emmett.  

When I visited Money, there was no reference to Emmett or the civil rights movement that he helped start. I have heard that there is now a historical marker at the site.

Bryant's grocery is dilapidated (my photo is below). I found it shuttered with plywood, and the roof and windows had fallen in. After taking a series of photos (which you can see here), I was happy to get into the car with my mom and drive past the cotton fields back home.  

Bryant's Grocery - Money Mississippi

Happy Thanksgiving From Miami

Today was a beautiful sunny 75 degree day in Miami.  Usually we spend Thanksgiving with my parents in Arkansas where the leaves have fallen and its colder. 

Last year was my Dad's last Thanksgiving.  It was strange not seeing him carve the turkey today.

This year we stayed in Miami.  Lots of family members and friends came over.  Kids splashing in the pool is a fun backdrop to turkey day.  We had a blast.

We have a lot to be thankful for, like my great aunt Anita, just 89 years old, and my in-laws Dr. O'Neill and Ms. O'Neill, who are approaching their mid-80's, and my Mom who is only 79, and is Thanksgiving from the Walker & O'Neill family - Cruise Lawgetting around pretty good now that she lives here in South Florida with us.  The words lively, active, brisk, and vigorous come to mind whenever I see them.  

We are thankful for our children who are healthy.  My oldest son finished his second homemade skateboard and took off this afternoon with me yelling at him to buckle his helmet.  My youngest son trounced me one-on-one in basketball.  When I demanded a re-match, he shut me out in front of the elders who seemed to be cheering for the youngest in the family.  I'm not even going to try and take my older son on.  When did they get taller, faster, and can shoot better than me?

I am thankful for my wife (and law partner).  I'm blessed to be with someone who's not only a heck of a lot smarter than me but who can cook for 23 without stressing out a bit.  Yes, that's her, standing where she should be - in the middle.

I am thankful for my co-counsel Jonathan Aronson and his wife Ilene who have been a constant support for our firm, and me personally, day in and day out.

I am thankful for my brother and sister and their families, who couldn't be with us this year, but are in my thoughts every day. 

We are thankful for our clients who live across the U.S. and all over the world.  We are blessed to have clients from the U.K., Germany, Russia, Croatia, Serbia, India, Honduras, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Bahamas, South Africa and Mexico.  (If I have forgotten someone's home country please email me and give me a hard time.)

Take a moment on this day of Thanksgiving and be thankful for your family and friends.  Count your blessings. 

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.  

Your Time is Limited, Find What You Love - Rest in Peace Steve Jobs

Tonight I watched the news programs about the death of Steve Jobs, the college drop-out turned garage computer creator turned genius behind the Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad products and Pixar studio. 

Jobs had a almost Zen like approach to his iconic products and his life, as revealed during his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.

At this time, he had already co-founded Apple and been fired by age 30, re-emerged for the renaissance of Apple's best days, and batted pancreatic cancer.  

At age 56, he tells the young graduating students some sage advise.  Find what you love in your life and in your career, and "love what you do." 

"Your time is limited."

"Don't waste it by living someone else's life."

For those reading this blog, take a minute and reflect on where you are right now.  Do you love your life and your job?   Are you really living your life?  

Or are you wasting your limited time here on planet Earth by listening to the noise created by others?  

 

Welcome to Miami Nana!

Welcome to Miami Nana!This past week I have received a few emails from Cruise Law News subscribers wondering why there have been no blogs for the past week. 

There certainly have been no shortage of interesting cruise stories.  Another public relations snafu by Royal Caribbean, a cruise ship collision, a couple of interesting legal cases, and even a happy story of a young woman who went overboard from a ferry in the U.K and was saved (thank God) have unfolded this month.

But the biggest story is that my Mom moved down from Arkansas to Miami.  Yep, Mom moves to Miami.  I spent a good amount of time (and had a good time) helping her make the move to Miami this past week. 

After my Dad died this past March, her choices for relocation were Houston where my brother lives, Park City Utah where my sister lives, or here in Miami.      

There is quite something about pulling up your roots and moving from your birthplace for good.  Especially when you move from a nice friendly Southern town to a fast paced place like Miami.  

Mom asked me if she would be an imposition living here with us.  With two teenage boys, four dogs and two full time lawyers I asked her if she minded living in a house which I call Grand Central Station?   Never a dull moment here in casa Walker.

The boys stepped up to the plate and had balloons ready for a party when she arrived.

Welcome to Miami Nana!

A View From A Fifth Grader - Gaddafi Finally Falls 42 Years Later

The images of the "rebel forces" advancing into Tripoli mesmerized me this weekend.   It has been a surreal experience to see the "Green Square" in Tripoli filled with joyful Libyans celebrating the anticipated fall of Colonel Gaddafi. 

Tripoli LibyaIn 1965 my Dad took our family to Tripoli after he obtained a job as a geophysicist for a major U.S. oil company in Libya.  

Dad had worked for a couple of different companies in Texas and Oklahoma.  But our family's proverbial "big break" came when my Dad accepted the new oil job and took my Mom, my older sister Robin, my little brother John, and me to North Africa, of all places.

Libya had a monarchy in place when we moved there in 1965.  King Idris was the leader.  Libya had been an Italian colony and had achieved freedom from Italy in 1954.  In the late 1950's oil was discovered there and U.S. and British oil companies moved in.  By 1965 there were over 10,000 Americans living in and around Tripoli.

Living in Libya as a grade school kid was like a dream.  We swam and snorkeled in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, searched for Roman coins near the ruins of Sabratha and Leptis Magna, and collected bullets from World War II we found in the sand.   The U.S. had a large air force base there called Wheelus, which broadcast U.S. television and radio shows.     

The images of living on the edge of the Sahara Desert remain with me today.  We lived around the corner from the tallest mosque in Tripoli.  The call to prayer which was broadcast from the top of the mosque is just one memory of the sights and sounds of Libya.  I remember driving downtown with my Mom when she would shop in the souk in the old city, buying sheep rugs, copper pots, and silver bracelets.

Tripoli LibyaLibyans were warm and friendly people.  But for reasons not clear to me now, as a child we got into a lot of "dirt-clod" fights with the Libyan kids.  As strange as an experience it was for us growing up in North Africa, it must have been even stranger for the Libyan children to grow up with a bunch of redneck kids from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  

On September 1, 1969, things in Libya changed profoundly. 

I remember that day well.  It was the first day of fifth grade.  My brother, sister and I waited outside of the villa for the school bus that would take us to the Oil Companies School (OCS).   The bus never came.  Our neighbors told us that there had been a "revolution" and King Idris had been overthrown.  My Dad returned from downtown and told my Mom the exciting details and told us kids to go inside and be quiet.   We stayed in our villa for two weeks with the Ghibli blinds closed.  I remember being very happy that I did not have to go to school and got to play with my siblings.

When Gaddafi took over, he quickly forbid the airing of any U.S. television and radio and kicked the U.S. and British air bases out of the country.  The Italian stores were looted and burned.  He forbid any signs in English and imposed a curfew. 

Billboards of Gaddafi were then erected all over the city, like this one shown in this photo below I took as a fifth grader.

Gaddafi militarized the country.  He aligned Libya with every nut cake dictator like Idi Amin, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.  He linked Libya with the Soviet Union and bought MIG jets and Soviet tanks.  I will never forget the noise of a hundred tanks driving down Zavia Road, on one of the few asphalt roads in our neighborhood.  I ran down to Zavia to watch the tanks, as they roared by tearing up the asphalt.  The spectacle simultaneously fascinated and frightened me.    

My Mom and Dad stayed in Libya until 1988, when President Reagan ordered all U.S. citizens out of the country.  Like the thousands of other Americans who lived in Libya in the 1960's and 1970's, our fondest memories were those of Libya "before Gaddafi." 

Gaddafi lasted a long time.  After over 4 decades of secret police and harsh rule, it looks like Gaddafi has finally fallen. 

Has it really been 42 years since that first day of fifth grade when the school buses never arrived?

Gaddafi - Tripoli Libya

Back From Vacation - Safe, Sound & Thankful

Whistler mountain bikingLast night our family arrived back in Miami after a three week vacation in the Pacific North West.  We enjoyed Pike Place Market in Seattle, kayaked in the Orcas Islands (amazing), mountain biked in Whistler, and hiked Mt. Rainier.  What a blast.

Aside from a spectacular wipe-out on a mountain bike trail by my youngest son, we returned to Miami safe and sound.  

Given the nature of my profession, I am ever mindful that some family vacations do not turn out to be happy memories. 

An experience while visiting Orcas Island reminded me of that.  My wife and law partner Lisa was visiting a quilting store when she overheard the store owner talking about just returning from a Holland America cruise to Alaska with her partner.  Lisa asked how they enjoyed the cruise.  The store owner's face turned grim.  She paused and said a young man disappeared during the cruise.     

The store owner was referring to twenty year old Blake Kepley, who disappeared during an Alaskan cruise with his family aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam on July 22nd.  Like many cruise ship disappearances, the cruise line has not disclosed whether there are closed circuit television images of the young man which may explain what happened.  This lack of transparency causes great stress to the surviving family members who must struggle not only with the misery of losing a child but the confusion of not knowing what really happened.

Kayaking Orca's IslandWhen I hear of incidents like this, I see images of other young men and women who have disappeared from cruise ships without explanation.  Like Amber Malkuch from Holland America's ZandaamRebecca Coriam from the Disney WonderMerrian Carver from the Celebrity Mercury MercuryAngelo Faliva from the Coral Princess, George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, and Amy Bradley from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

I do not know how these families endure their grief.  In the case of Amy Bradley, the Bradley family has suffered through twelve years of missing their daughter with no answers from the cruise line. 

When I hear of incidents of loved ones lost at sea I pray that my children, and all children, remain safe when they travel and vacation.  And when I return home, I am thankful that my family stayed safe from harm.    

Happy Father's Day Dad

Father's Day is this weekend.  This will be the first time in my 52 years of life that I don't have a father alive to call and tell him that I love him.  My Dad died on the morning of March 15, 2011. 

My Dad lived 81 and 1/2 years. He was born in a little town in Arkansas in 1929.  A depression baby.  His dad died in an oil refinery fire when he was 5. He essentially had no father, as strange as that seems to me. 

My Dad was a hell raiser.  Not that he ever told me about his youth, but oh the stories my uncle told.  Dad got kicked out of a junior college or two.  Something about his grades or blowing up dynamite or Bob Walkersomething like that.  It took him 7 years to get through college in Arkansas.  Then he enlisted into the U.S. Army and served in Germany. 

He met my Mom in 1952 and his life changed.  They married in 1955, and stay married for 56 years.

My Dad was quite a fella. A geophysicist by education and trade – he took us from the most modest of circumstances in Arkansas overseas to Libya in 1965 for the proverbial better life. Our first day of school in 5th grade was canceled when Qaddafi had his revolution in 1969.  We were evacuated out of Wheelus Airforce Base on C-130 aircraft during an Arab-Israeli War.  We had an exciting childhood. 

My Dad was a tough guy.  I was afraid of my Dad when I was young.  But he was always sweet, gentle, caring and loving to Mom.  When Mom became sick, he was her care provider, the cook, cleaner, he did everything.

Dad lived in Libya with Mom until 1988 and notwithstanding a couple of heart attacks he paid for my brother and sister and me to go to snootty, expensive private prep schools in New England for three years each, private fancy colleges like Lake Forest, Rice and Duke for 4 years each and law school for me at Tulane while buying us all cars in the process.

My standard of living went down when I left the family nest and became a lawyer.

Dad had the skills of an electrician, plumber, carpenter, painter, screen repairer, cabinet maker, master dollhouse builder, gardener, mechanic, and cook.  He could build, take apart, and fix most anything and everything (skills that jumped past me to my younger brother).   

His best skill was story telling, and I suppose that is the one thing I know I inherited from him.

Dad was the most conservative person around, he watched FOX News around the clock and thought that the solution to every international problem was dropping a nuclear bomb on everyone. He teased me incessantly that his oldest son turned out to be a damn liberal lawyer.  But he would literally take the shirt off of his back to help every stranger from every race, creed and color. 

Dad was down to earth.  A man of modesty who drove a 1974 Chevy truck held-together-with-duct-tape, he exhibited great generosity for others.   The only things he ever bought for himself were power saws and tools.  He mowed his own yard until last year.

Every problem I thought I ever had he had a simple solution to.  If he didn’t have the answer, he could talk me into believing that there was no problem in the first place.

I remember visiting my Dad in Arkansas many years ago after I graduated from law school.  I told him how hard my first job was as a first year associate, how mean the partners were, and how unappreciated I felt and so forth and so on.  He stopped me after a few minutes and said "son, they sound like a bunch of assholes, why don't you get us a couple of beers from the fridge, the Saints are about to play on TV."  When I returned from the kitchen with two cold ones, my Dad said "now, what Bob Walkerwere you talking about?"   My response, as I handed him a beer, "nothing Dad, nothing at all."   

Over the past six months as my Dad's health faded, I can’t tell you how many people I have met who lost one or both parents 10 or 15 years ago.  I have been blessed to have had both parents alive until just 2 months ago.  The greatest thanks I have is that Dad was suppose to die after a heart attack in 1981, but he made it through and lived another 30 years. 

There has not been a day thereafter that I was not appreciative of God keeping him alive for these past years, a long period of time when we became extremely close.  We enjoyed some hilarious times together.

My Dad was a great father.   He was my best friend.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.   

Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Last week  I was reading the New York Times on line when I ran across an interesting article "Venice Tourist Ships Rattle Windows and Nerves" by Elisabetta Povoledo. 

The article raises the question of the environmental impact of massive cruise ships sailing into the passenger terminal at the end of the Giudecca Canal, to unload over one and one-half million cruise Venice - Cruise Shipspassengers into Venice a year. 

I have warm memories of the first, and only, time that I visited Venice.  It was the summer of 1977, after my freshman year at college.  I originally traveled to Europe with my freshman roommate at Duke and two buddies from prep school.  After two weeks in Belgium and Holland, where we spent more time in the beer halls than in museums, we got on each other's nerves.  We strapped on our backpacks and went our separate ways. 

I had bought a $200 "Eurail pass" that let me hop on trains all over over Europe.  It even covered a couple of cruises (where we slept on the open decks) on old tubs from Brindisi, Italy to the island of Corfu and then on to Greece and back. 

Before I headed south, I spent a week in Venice by myself. 

I loved it. 

For $8 a night, I rented a single room in an Italian's family upstairs apartment.  I spent my  time visiting St. Mark's Cathedral, walking around the narrow winding streets, and eating incredible Italian ice cream.  I stopped at all of the little bridges over the canals which criss-crossed the city and leaned over the rails to watch couples and families ride on gondolas navigating below me.   

Venice - Cruise Ships PollutionI took a few photos (above and right) which have been in an old photo album for the last three decades.

I have lasting images and feelings from my experiences in Venice.   I felt at ease in this incredibly tranquil city, especially in the evenings when I would sit in the plazas drinking wine or espresso and wonder what my future would bring.          

Now 34 years later, I am looking at the photo (below) in the New York Times' article of a massive cruise ship looming over Venice.  What  a stark contrast to my fond memories of the quiet and quaint city with the gondola drivers pushing their poles along the little canals.  

Are those monster cruise ships really sailing by the Riva dei Sette Martiri, a quay near St. Mark’s Square? 

There seems something disrespectful about arriving in Venice aboard a cruise ship taller and wider than anything that could have been imagined when the city was built 500 years ago. 

What happened to the tranquility of the beautiful, delicately scaled maze of canals and plazas where the poets, artists and travelers inter-mingled in the uniqueness of this old city?  Are the mega cruise ships and their one and one-half million cruise tourists ruining the charm of Venice?  Or has the world forever changed, leaving only the memories from my youth?      

 

Venice - Cruise Ships

 

Photos top and middle:  Jim Walker

Photo bottom:  Manuel Silvestri / Reuters
 

Monika's Last Recital

A reader of our blog, Evelyn, left us a link to a  short video of Monika Markiewicz playing the violin aboard the Allure of the Seas cruise ship shortly before her death in Cozumel.  The reader left the short message: "I shot a short video on her playing . . . she was so sweet."'

The death of a young person like Monika leaves a void in the universe that can never be filled. 

We hope that the family and friends of Ms. Markiewicz consider the happiness that she brought to hundreds of her crew member friends and thousands of passengers who enjoyed her play beautiful and joyful music.      

May she rest in peace.   

 

 

Video credit:   luktungkuen YouTube

Merry Christmas from Cruise Law News - Its a Wonderful Life!

Its that time of the year to be thankful for your family and friends as we celebrate Christmas.

Many, many thanks to my friends, clients and extended family.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Cruise Law News!  And don't forget, Its a Wonderful Life -   

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Cruise Law News

This Thanksgiving, my family is back in my hometown of El Dorado Arkansas visiting my parents and our cousins.  Thanksgiving at the family homestead in Arkansas is the perfect place to be this time of year.

My family has a lot to be thankful for this year.  My Dad, age 81, made it to another Thanksgiving despite a series of heart attacks dating back to 1981 when I was in law school.   My Dad is a tough nut  with a heart of gold which unfortunately is failing him.  I am thankful that my family can spend time with Dad and Mom, soulmates for the past 56 years.  

I am thankful for my beautiful wife and healthy kids, my younger brother and his family who traveled from Texas and my older sister and her family who made the journey from Utah and California.  Mom and dad - El Dorado ArkansasI am thankful for my cousins here in Arkansas and my family's friends and church members who have supported my parents during this year. 

I am thankful for my clients, passengers and crew members alike, who have entrusted us with their cases and causes. 

I am thankful for my friend Jonathan Aronson and his wife Ilene who have helped us defeat the cruise line felons and are helping our law firm grow and prosper this year.  

I am thankful for the people who are readers of Cruise Law News and who have supported me.  Thanks a million for your positive (and negative) comments on this blog, on Twitter and Facebook.  I appreciate your encouragement.   

Take a moment on this day of Thanksgiving and be thankful for your family and friends.  Count your blessings as you sit around the table eating turkey and watching the ball games this afternoon. 

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. 

Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

I used to be a cruise line defense lawyer. 

In 1996, I tried my last defense case, for Dolphin Cruise Lines.  The cruise line was sued by a crew member who slipped and fell on a wet floor of a photography room on the S/S Oceanbreeze.  He underwent back surgery and returned to his home country unemployable.  The crew member's lawyer asked the jury to return a verdict of over $1,000,000.  But after a six day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict on the Jones Act, unseaworthiness and failure to provide medical treatment allegations in my client's favor. 

Defense lawyers are suppose to be happy when they win a case like this.  But when the jury returned to the courtroom and the foreperson smiled at me, I felt uneasy.  Yes, the cruise line's Rock - Balance - Whistler - Canada head of risk management sitting next to me was ecstatic.  And the cruise line's underwriters I reported to were pleased that I kept their money safe. 

The defense verdict was upheld on appeal, with the appellate court writing an opinion which explained how effectively I cross examined the crew member and his fact and expert witnesses.  I was a zealous advocate for my client, no doubt.  I had soundly defended the biggest name in Miami who represented crew members. 

But I didn't like the praise for winning the case.  This crew member deserved better.  His lawyers were unprepared and did, at best, a less-than-average job trying his case.  I understood that the verdict left the disabled crew member with nothing.  He had no means to support his wife or three children.  Sometimes I would awake in the still quiet of the night, wondering what I was doing. 

One year later, I turned my cruise line cases back to the cruise line and its underwriters.  I opened my own law firm, advertising that I represented only people injured on cruise ships.  But I had no clients, not a single passenger or crew member to represent. 

This was the most liberating feeling I have ever felt. 

When I win cases today, I don't have mixed feelings.  And I have never slept better.  

I know that I'm on the right side of the fence - trying cases against lawyers who awake in the dead of the night wondering what the hell they are doing.    

 

Photo Credit:

Jim Walker    Rock Balance - Whistler, Canada  August 2010

Cruise Law: Back From Vacation & Into The Frying Pan

Cruise Law News - Totem - Victoria - British ColumbiaThis morning the Walker - O'Neill family arrived back in Miami at 7:30 a.m. after taking the "red eye" from Seattle.  We spent two weeks enjoying British Columbia for a great vacation.

My family voted before our vacation that there would be no blogging.  Out voted 3-1, I didn't even take my lap top with me.  So my blogging hours were replaced with sightseeing in the beautiful capital of Victoria (great totems, photo left); surfing and whale watching (photo below right) in the fishing village of Tofino (Vancouver Island) ; mountain biking in Whistler; and finally a couple of days running and biking in Stanley Park in Vancouver.  A great time.

Our two boys, who are now officially taller than me, had  some fun clowning around in the Tofino Botanical Gardens with Mr. Skull Head (right, bottom).  

The closest I could come to cruise law blogging was to tweet a photo of Pikes Market while visiting our niece in Seattle (yes that's the NCL Pearl in the background) and a photo of the close up of the NCL Pearl while we walked along the pier.

A lot of things happened in the world of cruise law news during our short  vacation:

Cruise Law - Tofino - Whale WatchingPresident Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, as reported by Consumer Reports.  Our client, Laurie Dishman, traveled to the White House for a photo with the President Obama in the Oval Office.  We will be blogging about this and will include a photo of Laurie and President Obama.  Wow!  We are so proud of Laurie.  We will be talking about the new cruise safety law in the next several weeks.  

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel published a on line data-base of cruise ship deaths, incidents and crimes.  The data base is the hard work of reporter Jaclyn Giovis who interviewed me in an article entitled "Keeping Crime at Bay On Cruises." 

A newspaper in Seattle reported on the one year anniversary of the the mysterious disappearance of Amber Malkuch from Holland American Lines' Zaadam cruise ship, as reported by Seattle's KOMO News (read the comments to the story).  Cruise Line News (CLN) discussed Ms. Malkuch's death a year ago.  We criticized the cruise line's PR decision to label the disappearance as a "suicide" even before the Alaskan State Troopers concluded its investigation - "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.    

Cruise Law - British Columbia - Vacation Passengers and crew members continue to contact our firm after being sexually assaulted or victimized during cruises on Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships.  Stay tuned for articles about how the cruise lines try and cover these crimes up, notwithstanding the new cruise law.    

Royal Caribbean filed motions in three cases falsely accusing me of conspiring to steal secret safety information from the cruise line, in an effort to kick me off of the cases.  Being recklessly accused by a corporate felon like Royal Caribbean invigorates me and validates my work as a cruise safety advocate.  In the next month, we will publish articles about Royal Caribbean's outrageous conduct and will include copies of motions, deposition transcripts and court orders regarding Royal Caribbean's efforts to harm our firm and our clients. 

We will win this dispute. 

And we will obtain our attorney fees incurred in defending our little firm from these malicious charges by this $15 billion criminal corporation.

You can bank on that.  And you will read about it first here on Cruise Line News (CLN).

Its great to come back from a nice relaxing vacation, and jump right back into the frying pan. 

Cruise Law Goes On Vacation

The lawyers at Cruise Law are going on vacation for a few days.  So you will not see the usual daily blogs about all of the cruise ship monkey business.

And, no, we are not going on a cruise.

But feel free to email me - yes I still work even on vacations: jwalker@cruiselaw.com

Cruise Law - Cruise Ship Law

 

Gullver's Winning Lacrosse Team

From time to time, I'll include a "personal story" in Cruise Law News, like this one.

This year my younger son, John, a 7th grader tried out for the 7th and 8th grade lacrosse teams at his school Gulliver Academy.  He had never played lacrosse before.  Quite frankly, I don 't think he had ever even seen a lacrosse game.  He certainly had never handled a lacrosse stick or thrown or caught a lacrosse ball.

Gulliver Lacrosse Team - Seventh and Eight GradeBut lacrosse is a combination of other games he has played like basketball and football.  You set screens and cut for a pass in lacrosse just like basketball.  And lacrosse is just as physical as football but without as many pads.

Gulliver has an "A" team, mostly 8th graders, and a "B" team mostly 7th graders which he was trying out for.  I wasn't sure he would make the team, but he did and the family was really excited for him.   After a few weeks, he got the swing of if and began to start as a midfielder.  No. 35 started scoring on offense and knocking people down on defense. 

Gulliver had a great season, won some tournaments, and John and his friends had a great time.

This weekend, the team had an end-of-the-season pool party.  John was awarded Most Valuable Player and got his photo taken with the coaches and his MVP trophy.  

Its great to see your kids meet new challenges and have fun in the process.

Gulliver Lacrosse

 

Death Of A Blackberry - A Good Excuse For A Quiet Weekend

It finally happened.  After 8 years, my Blackberry finally died.  Not a natural death mind you, but due to my negligence in leaving it on a lawn chair Friday evening after I enjoyed a glass of wine with my spouse. 

Our sprinkler timer kicked on Saturday morning and, after a 20 minute water cycle, my friend was soaked to the circuits.  

Blackberry Death - Goodbye Old FriendMy Blackberry has been my primary method of communication since 2002. I receive over 100 e-mails a day so I figure it handled 300,000 emails over the years - plus more than my fair share of google alerts, text messages and even an occasional telephone call or two.

But it didn't have a camera.  No video or GPS either.  Compared to the sleek iPhones everyone whips out these days, it was kinda like a four-door Ford sedan.  Boring but reliable.

It has been eerily quiet this weekend.  No calls, no checking the crackberry every 5 minutes, no frantic texting to clients who have become accustomed to communicating on the weekends.  

So long old friend.  Should I bring you back?  Or is it time for an upgrade?  I think that I'll be a traitor and give an iPhone OS 4 a try. 

Or maybe I'll just enjoy the silence for another day. 

A Beautiful Day In Miami - Cruise Ship Capital of the World

Miami - Cruise Capital of the WorldToday was a beautiful day in Miami - 68 degrees, bright blue skies, and a gentle breeze from the south.

This is the type of weather which reminds me why I live in Miami.

My family decided at the spur of the moment to drive over to South Beach. 

All afternoon long, jet - after - jet flew over Miami Beach filled with passengers ready to head from the airport over to the port to board a cruise ship or take a taxi to the beach to unwind and party for the week.

We had a nice lunch at the Lord Balfour hotel, on the front patio, between 4th and 5th street.  My boys then headed over to the beach, mentioning something about looking for the topless beach.  Mommy said no way.  I said take my camera.  We reached a compromise and headed to "SouthPoint."  

"SouthPoint," where South Beach ends, has a nicely developed board walk where tourists can watch the cruise ships sail up Government Cut and head south to the Caribbean.  Thousands of passengers, tiny specs on the top decks, waive to the tourists ashore who waive back.  You can hear the music pumping from the ships and you know everyone aboard is excited to be beginning their much deserved vacation cruises.     

Today, four cruise ships sailed by.  Carnival's Destiny and Liberty, NCL's Norwegian Pearl, and Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas headed out to sea from the port of Miami.  I took a photo of the Liberty and caught my older son running along the jetty after the cruise ship passed by.

Miami is a beautiful and exciting place to live.  More cruise passengers sail out of Miami on a weekend than live in my hometown back in Arkansas. 

We had a nice afternoon.

I hope I don't hear from any of the passengers Monday morning when I return to work.

Miami - Cruise Capital of the World

 

Credits:

Photographs         Jim Walker

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                          

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 . . .

 

 

Boys Night Out: Miami 67 - Wake Forest 66

Miami - Wake Forest - BasketballI receive a lot of emails to the effect that I should write fewer articles about the cruise industry's latest shenanigans and more about "personal stuff."

O.K. - always happy to oblige.

Tonight I went with the boys to the University of Miami to watch the UM play Wake Forest - ACC basketball big time.  Have you ever heard of ACC basketball?  If not, please turn your computer off and go to bed.

I watched my first ACC basketball game in 1976 in my freshman year at Duke.  Duke was playing North Carolina State.  Duke won by a point. Unbelievable game.  You have not seen basketball until you stand in the student section at Cameron Indoor stadium.  

Jim Spanarkel & Mike Gminski of Duke over superstar Kenny Carr of N.C. State in an nail biter.  79 -78 Duke by one. 

Miami - Wake Forest Basketball - Hot DogsGlory days. 

33 years later that game is more real and in your face than any game I recall.

But tonight's game was no sleeper.  Wake had the last shot but its superstar guard - Ishmael Smith - missed what would have been a game winner with a few seconds left.

UM won!  

My kids had a good time, I think.  We ate some hot dogs, M&M's & popcorn. 

Went by Cold Stone for ice cream on the way home.  Boy do I feel healthy.

A nice evening.

But it sure as hell is not Duke basketball in Cameron Indoor Stadium  . . .   

   

UM - Miami - Wake Forest - Basketball     

Season's Greetings from Park City, Utah

Park City - SnowFor those of you who read my blog, you know that I have  taken a sabbatical away from Cruise Law News since December 19th. 

Ten days without a single blog. A record!

After 100 articles in a little over three months, I needed a break.  My readers probably did too.

My other excuse is that our family has been traveling since our kids got out of school for Winter break.  This year, we went to visit my sister Robin who lives with her husband Mark and their cat (Harley) and two dogs (Wyett & Zoe) in Park City, Utah. 

You will remember that Park City (and Salt Lake) hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. 

It is a great snow town and a lot friendlier (I am told) than some of the other resorts in Colorado.  We spend a couple of weeks here every year in July - its a great place to hike, bike, camp, and fish.  

My two boys are snow boarders. They had a great time.  Its hard for me to get real motivated to do anything outside when it is just 5 degrees.  That's probably why I live in Miami. 

I am posting a couple of photographs from Park City from my low tech Cannon 1000.  The photo above is the view of the canyon and mountains in Park City, taken from the condo.  The photo below is my boys suited and ready for the slopes.

You can see a lot more photos on my Flickr page, Park City - Christmas 2009, which includes Park City - Snow Boardingsome good ones of Harley the cat and Wyett & Zoe, Yellow Labs. 

It was good to get away from the frantic pace of Miami and unwind with my family.  My brother-in-law Mark, a super skier, showed us videos and movies of intense skiing in Chamonix which my kids really enjoyed.    

I have also included a short video of my boy's reaction when you go from a 100 degree hot tub into 10 degree snow!

Season's Greetings to my friends, family and clients. 

I hope everyone has a safe and healthy New Year.

Don't forget to sign up (to the left) via email or RSS to receive my blogs for next year . . .     

Credits:

Photos - Jim Walker's Flickr photostream    

Video  - Jim Walker's YouTube

 

 

 

John Walker Scores Winning Touchdown - Gulliver Beats Westminster Christian 22 - 14

From time to time, I receive an email or a Tweet from someone tired of hearing negative comments about the cruise industry.  I hear you.  Trust me, I'm as tired of tweeting or blogging about bad things that happen on cruise ships as you may be hearing about them.

Usually, the tweet is something like - Do you have a life?  Can't you say something positive?  

Well, usually I can't, at least not about the cruise industry. I'd like to, but the cruise lines keep me pretty busy trying to catch up with their perpetual shenanigans.  But do I have a life?  Of course, my family, my kids, my parents, my siblings, and my 4 dogs.

So I thought that I would include on my blog, my "personal stuff."  Things that make me happy.  People that I count on.  Funny things that make me laugh.

So let me start by telling you what I did today.  I left work at 3:00 p.m and went to my son's last home football game.  He goes to Gulliver Academy.  12 years old.  7th grader.  You know what I'm talking about.

Gulliver was playing its last home game at the high school field (Gulliver Prep).  The field is named after the late Sean Taylor - the Washington Redskins star who died tragically last year during a home invasion robbery here in Miami.  He was a superstar at the Prep.

My son and his teammates were pumped up to be playing on the "big field."  Playing arch rival Westminster Christian.  

My son, no. 30, plays fullback.  He is a big, strong, fast kid. Not sure where that athletic talent comes from.  Am I bragging about him?  You bet.  This is Miami.  A lack of confidence gets you run over.  Road kill.

He entered the 4th quarter with negative yardage. The game was close. Westminster was swarming on him all afternoon. He was discouraged. I know my kids just like any parent does.  You think to yourself. Don't give up.  Keep your head up.  Something good will happen!      

Late in the the game, the quarterback, a highly skilled 8th grader, was hit out of bounds and knocked out of the game.  A new quarterback was in.  I could tell they were going to give the ball to my son, just by the way he lined up in the backfield.  He took the pitch - right sweep - beat the defensive end and ran down the sideline for 44 yards. 

Yes, I videotaped it on my crappy little Canon A1000.  Yes, I uploaded it to YouTube.  Damn straight I did.  This is the first photographic proof in the history of the world that a Walker scored a touchdown.

Walkers in 4 states are cheering.  Gulliver won by a touchdown!  A hug by the Dean of Students.  And my son's name was broadcast in Sean Taylor's stadium.  Not sure life can get any sweeter than that. 

Am I living vicariously through my kids?  You bet.  Sure beats talking about the damn cruise industry . . .        

Click on the play button and watch the big play: