Cruise Passengers on Excursion in Belize Involved in Head-On Collision

Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station's account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway - right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion's equipment and the driver's background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

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

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From HAL Veendam

Veendam Cruise ShipThe U.S. Coast Guard Sector in San Diego sent a helicopter to a cruise ship approximately 150 miles west of San Diego yesterday (January 23rd).

The Defense Video and Imaging Distribution Services reports that a 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.

The video was taken by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

The name of the cruise ship was not released. However, an AIS tracking site indicates that the Holland America Line Veendam turned around and began heading back toward San Diego.

You can watch the helicopter land after transporting the injured woman from the HAL ship.

The Veendam was last in the news when an elderly woman went overboard earlier this month. 

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times 

 

Two Cruise Passengers Seriously Injured on the Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipA local CBS news station is reporting that two cruise passengers were seriously injured on a cruise ship that has docked at Port Canaveral, Florida.

The news station says that a man suffered a neck injury and a woman in her 70s suffered some type of fracture while aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The Orlando Sentinel also reports that the Brevard County Fire Rescue is involved responding to the injuries.  Crews responded to terminal six at Port Canaveral for a man with a neck injury around noon, according to the Fire Rescue's Twitter page. Twenty minutes later, officials issued a trauma alert for another patient – a woman in her 70's with a fracture. 

It is believed that both men are passengers.

The Breakaway is home ported in Manhattan and makes includes Port Canaveral as a port. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Dickelbers)

Passengers Injured Aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

A reader of Cruise Law News sent us photographs of the Oasis of the Seas arriving in port in Cozumel.

Two ambulances arrived next to the Oasis of the Seas at the dock in Cozumel and took injured passengers away to the hospital. 

The photos show the ambulance lights next to the Oasis of the Seas. There is some indication that passengers may have been injured due to rough weather associated with Tropical Storm Karen.

You can see a set of photo on our Facebook page.

Oasis of the Seas - Cozumel
 

 

FlowRider: Royal Caribbean Opts for Excitement Over Safety - Expect More Injuries

Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein has a strange article this past week on his Sea Views blog. It's about his cruise line's "FlowRider" attraction, where passengers attempt to boogie board or surf on a thin water streaming at a high speed across the surface of the attraction.

We have written a number of articles about the FlowRider and the numerous serious injuries (and one death) which have occurred on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Read: Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents.

Notwithstanding the danger, CEO Goldstein writes that Royal Caribbean "recently loosened the reins a Royal Caribbean Cruise FlowRiderbit as it relates to the tricks guests are permitted to perform on our FlowRider® surf simulators."

Goldstein explains that in 2012, "in an effort to find the right balance between excitement and safety we had tightened up our rules in 2012. Maybe a little too much . . . " But it seems that the cruise line has now opted for a bit less safety and more fun. The cruise executive writes: 

"As of this summer, guests are able to try various types of fun tricks such as sitting, 180 degree turn, facing opposite direction, lazy boy, drop knee, drop knee 360, layback, boogie shuvit, baseball catcher, 360, skiing, show pony, rail slide, basic ollie, pop shuvit, heel side stall and the toe side stall . . ."

Expect more injuries and more lawsuits. And you'll never see a photo of Goldstein risking breaking his neck on the FlowRider.

President Goldstein spins the surfing attraction by telling the story of a young ten year old cruise passenger who learned to surf on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and is now the "World Flowboard" champion.  Good for her.

But here is where the story gets weird. The letter that Goldstein posts on his blog, and supposedly was written by the child, states that an officer on the ship "called me over and asked if I had completed my activities waiver."  (Do children really write like this?) The officer then allegedly checks the child in and she starts to FlowRide!

The troubling thing is that children can't execute waivers, an officer can't complete the waiver on behalf of a child, and the waiver is illegal in the first place.

Our firm handled the case where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal struck the cruise line's "activities waiver" down, holding that it is unlawful and cannot be used against injured FlowRider participants on the high seas.

There are also design defects in the FlowRider, we allege, which most participants don't realize.

It's a sad spectacle watching a cruise CEO hawk FlowRider cruises by mentioning children signing activity waivers that the courts have ruled to be void and unenforceable.

 

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

NCL Passenger Falls Two Decks on Norwegian Breakaway, Receives Medical Treatment in Bermuda

NCL Norwegian BreakawayThe Bermuda Sun reports that on September 17th a NCL cruise passenger was taken to a hospital in Bermuda after she fell two decks and was seriously injured. The woman was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The newspaper states that "it is unclear where exactly on the mega-ship that the accident took place or how it happened."

As a result, the NCL cruise ship made an early emergency stop so that the injured passenger could be taken to hospital for treatment. The Norwegian Breakaway was met with a pilot boat and the passenger was stretchered off the ship and eventually to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cruise Critic reports that NCL stated that "the guest accidentally fell from her balcony on Deck 10 to Deck 8 and was disembarked in Bermuda for medical treatment . . ." 

Following this incident, a second passenger, a 72 year old man, was taken from the cruise ship at port to the same hospital in Bermuda for a heart condition.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Are Royal Caribbean FlowRiders Defectively Designed?

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean  When Royal Caribbean decided to be the only cruise line in the world with FlowRiders installed on its cruise ships, the cruise line had to have the FlowRider designed to fit on a ship.

Unlike some surfing simulators on land with long wash-out zones (the space between the top of the ridge and the back wall) where the participant will lose speed and come safely to a rest, the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have a wash-out zone of only around eleven feet. This creates a danger where the participant will crash into the back wall at high speed.

The problem is compounded by a lack of sufficient padding of the wall. 

For example, watch this link and see this passenger wipe out. Although he is not a skinny fellow, he still crashes into the back wall.  Watch the last few seconds and you can see his arms and legs fly into the air upon hitting the wall.

You can also get an idea of the force of the water by watching the video below.

Are these FlowRiders defectively designed?  Should there be longer wash-out zones and thicker padding on the end wall?

 

Is Royal Caribbean Committing Fraud by Requiring Cruise Passengers to Sign Legally Unenforceable FlowRider Waivers?

If you want to participate in the FlowRider attraction on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the cruise line requires its passengers to sign an electronic waiver. The waiver purports to relieve the cruise line of any and all liability arising out of use of the FlowRider. However, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last year that the waiver violates U.S. Maritime Law and is legally unenforceable.

In a  case our firm handled, the appellate court held that the Royal Caribbean waiver violated 46 U.S.C. § 30509 which prohibits contractual provisions which attempt to limit the liability of the owner of ships for "personal injury or death caused by the negligence or fault of the owner or the owner's employees or agents." The court held that the statute was clear and unambiguous, and there was no exception for recreational, inherently dangerous, or ultra hazardous activities. Although waivers of this FlowRider Wipe Out - Royal Caribbean Cruisetype may be enforceable on land under certain circumstances, such waivers are illegal and unenforceable on the high seas.

The legal decision is significant because there has been at least one death and many serious injuries to cruise passengers on the Royal Caribbean FlowRiders.

Below you can see an example how the cruise line electronic waiver works.  The participants usually are in a long line near the "Wipeout Bar!" with music blaring when they have to sign the waiver. Quite often, the passengers don't read anything and are led through the waiver by a cruise line employee very quickly. The waivers are not only legally unenforceable, but it seems like no one reads them anyway.

Ever since the Eleventh Circuit struck the waiver down, the cruise's line's requirement to force passengers to sign the waiver appears fraudulent to me.  The waiver is unenforceable. Period. Executing an unenforceable waiver is meaningless. There is a danger that a passenger may not assert their legal rights after they were seriously injured on the FlowRider because the cruise line tricked them into believing that they waived their rights. This constitutes fraud.

If you were injured on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and you didn't file suit timely (one year) because you believed that you waived your rights, you may still have a basis for a lawsuit against the cruise line.

If you have a question about the Royal Caribbean Flowrider waiver, please contact our office.

 

Danger on the High Seas - Royal Caribbean's Deadly FlowRider

Watch the video of the FlowRider at the top.  Looks like fun doesn't it?  The rider surfs on the water and never wipe-outs. Easy right?

Not at all. The person in the video is a skilled and experienced Royal Caribbean employee who has spent many hours riding the FlowRider.

Now take a look at the second video at the bottom when a novice tries to surf on the FlowRider. Beware, don't look if you can't stomach a gruesome accident. It's serious. "Ouch" is an understatement. 

The FlowRider is exceedingly dangerous. It has caused at least one death on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and many broken bones.  

Royal Caribbean uses experienced, athletic crew members like the one on the video at top to ride the FlowRider while the passengers first embark on the Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and other cruise ships. This attracts the passengers to come back and make reservations for private lessons which can cost up to $480 an hour.  The FlowRider is a major money maker for the cruise line. 

Read about the FlowRider and holding Royal Caribbean responsible when cruise passengers are seriously injured on the cruise line's money making attraction:

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents     

  

Cruise Ship Law - Lawsuits Against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Miami, Florida

Our law firm handles cases on behalf of injured passengers and crew members against cruise lines.  Other law firms handle auto accidents, dog bite cases and whatever may walk in the door.  Our firm sues only cruise lines in cases involving serious injuries. That’s all that we do.

One of the cruise lines that we file lawsuits against on a regular basis is Royal Caribbean.

Types of Royal Caribbean Lawsuits:  The type of cases we handle against Royal Caribbean can be divided into two general categories – personal injury cases and crime cases.

Crime Lawsuits:  Most of the crime cases we have handled over the years involve sexual assaults on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  We have represented women who have been sexually assaulted on cruises by cruise line ship doctors, security guards, waiters, bar tenders and cleaners. The rapes have occurred in the passenger cabins, utility closets, and crew bathrooms. 

The crimes are not limited to the cruise ships. Crimes against passengers have occurred during cruise sponsored excursions such as diving and snorkeling trips, sailing and catamaran outings, and in and around bars at the cruise port in the Caribbean and Mexico. We have represented parents whose minor children have been molested by Royal Caribbean crew members and teenagers who have been sexually assaulted by older passengers.

Injury Lawsuits:  Passengers on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been seriously injured in a wide FlowRider Danger - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship variety of cases.  Passengers occasionally slip and fall on slippery decks and floors and sustain serious injuries such as fractured ankles, knees and hips. Injuries on the cruise line’s wide variety of recreational attractions are common, including skating rinks and rock climbing attractions.  Injuries on the Royal Caribbean FlowRider surfing simulator are frequent.  Royal Caribbean passengers have sustained serious, permanent and debilitating injuries, and have even been killed, on the highly dangerous FlowRider. 

The FlowRider is a major money making attraction for Royal Caribbean, but it's unreasonably dangerous in my opinion.

You can read about FlowRider accidents and injuries here.

Types of Clients:  We represent cruise ship passengers and crew members. Most of the passengers we represent are from the United States. We have represented clients literally from across the United States. 

Our crew member clients, who sustain back, neck and wrist injuries due to the long hours and repetitive nature of their work, are typically from Jamaica, St. Vincent, India, Argentina, Venezuela, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, among other countries. 

If you or a family member have been seriously injured due to the negligence of Royal Caribbean, consider hiring a law firm which focuses its experience and resources on cruise ship lawsuits – not auto accident or dog bite cases.

Call our office at (305) 995 5300 or email me at jim@cruiselaw.com. 

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean FlowRider Sign - Jim Walker

12 Year Old Child Medevaced from Carnival Sensation

Carnival SensationNews stations in Orlando are reporting that a 12 year old child was airlifted from a Carnival cruise ship after falling on the ship.  

Port Canaveral authorities state that the child fell on the cruise ship on Wednesday while aboard the Carnival Sensation and was medevaced to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando this morning in stable condition. 

The last time that a child was medevaced from a cruise ship in Port Canaveral was in March of this year when a 4 year old boy nearly drowned on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Wknight94

Passenger from Sea Spirit Cruise Ship Killed During Artic Excursion

Sea Spirit - Quark - Cruise Ship A newspaper in Norway reports that a cruise ship passenger was killed and three other passengers were injured while on an Artic cruise excursion. The incident occurred when a rubber inflatable boat (a Zodiac) was swamped by a wave in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, causing all 13 people to go into icy Arctic waters.

The accident involved passengers from the Sea Spirit who were being taken on a sightseeing excursion. The deceased passenger was a U.S.  woman in her 60's. She was examined by the cruise ship doctor. A rescue helicopter was sent but the woman was pronounced dead, Two other passengers were flown in the helicopter to a hospital at Longyearbyen for treatment.

The Sea Spirit cruise ship is operated by Quark Expeditions

 

Photo Credit: Cruising Holidays

Jolly Nero Container Ship Crashes in Port of Genoa, Italy

News sources in Italy are reporting tonight on the allision between a container ship under pilot and a port control tower at the busy port of Genoa. Three people are reported dead, anywhere from four to six people are seriously injured, and between six to ten others are missing.

Rescue workers dived into the dark waters at the port in a night-time search for the missing.

The ship involved is the Jolly Nero container ship operated by the Messina Line based in Genoa. The accident brings back images of the Concordia cruise ship which was operated by Genoa-based Costa Crociere.    

Unlike the aloof Costa and Carnival owners and operators of the doomed Concordia which killed 32 passengers and crew and terrorized thousands more, the Jolly Nero's owner, Stefano Messina, arrived at the port shortly after the accident crash. He reportedly choked back tears as he told journalists: "We are all utterly shocked. Nothing like this has ever happened before, we are desperate."

There is speculation whether the accident involving the Jolly Nero was caused by reckless piloting or due to mechanical failure of the ship's engines.

May 8, 2013 Update: The BBC has an article and video about the accident.

Jolly Nero Collision Genoa Italy

Photo Credit: ilcorrieredabruzzo.it

Legal Rights of Crew Members Injured on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Crew Member When injured Royal Caribbean crew members contact us, there are a few things that they usually say:

"The ship doctor would not take me seriously and just gave me Ibuprofen;"

"My supervisor told me that if I didn't want to work I would be sent home;"

"The company would not send me to a doctor in the Miami but sent me to Nassau instead;"

"The ship doctor would not authorize a MRI;"

"The company sent me home and I have no money;"

"The company sent me home and no medical treatment is arranged;" 

"I called my medical case manager and she didn't call me back;" and

"I emailed my medical case manager and she didn't email me back."

One of the problems which Royal Caribbean crew members face is that they are required to work excessive hours (12 hours or more) seven days a week all month long. Repetitive injuries to their back, neck and wrists are common. Complicating matters is that there is constant pressure to keep working. Stateroom attendants have to clean the 20 or so cabins assigned to them each and every day; a negative comment from a guest may be the kiss of death and result in a 10 year cabin attendant finding herself summarily dismissed from the cruise ship.  

The next problem is that there is very little actual diagnosis of crew members injuries taking place on cruise ships. Rather the focus is on giving pain relievers to the injured crew which just masks the problem and can result in the injury becoming worse.  Many crew members tell us that ship infirmaries Royal Caribbean Crew Member have baskets of Ibuprofen pills out at the nurse's station, not unlike a bowl of candy to eat.

And when the crew member can no longer work and gets sent home? In most cases, the cruise line has not scheduled any medical treatment. Nor has the company provided a check for the crew member's sick wages or living expenses.  

The crew medical personnel in the company's offices in Miami are understaffed. A single medical case manager may be required to handle over 150 crew member cases.  If you are a sick or injured Royal Caribbean crew member and feel that the company isn't paying attention to you, that's because it isn't.

Under the U.S. maritime law, cruise lines are required to provide you with prompt and adequate medical care on the cruise ship. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean also have to provide full and complete "maintenance and cure" when a crew member is home on medical leave.

Over the last decade we have represented RCCL crew members from around the world. We are currently representing cleaners, waiters, assistant waiters, cooks, and cabin attendants from Jamaica, India, Guyana, Nicaragua, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad, St. Vincent, Peru and other countries.

If you were injured on a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean (or sister company Celebrity Cruises) due to an accident, over-work or bad medical care, and are frustrated by the way the cruise line is treating you - don't suffer alone.  We will be pleased to help you.

We will explain your rights and answer any questions you have.

Email me at jim@cruiselaw.com or call our office at 305 995 5300.

 

Photo Credit - Jim Walker with clients:

Top: RCCL cabin attendant from St. Vincent in Miami for medical treatment

Bottom: RCCL cook injured in galley / photo taken in front of Allure of the Seas in Jamaica

Swimming Pool Mishap on Disney Fantasy Sends 4 Year Old to Hospital

Disney Fantasy Cruise ShipNewspapers are reporting that a four year-old boy was pulled from a pool on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship, taken to Cape Canaveral Hospital, and then airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. 

The incident occurred after the boy's family had boarded the ship and before it had left Port Canaveral in Brevard County,

Brevard County medical personnel arrived on the cruise ship to respond to the incident which occurred around 3:30 p.m. The incident was describes as a "potential drowning" at the family pool. The articles on line indicate the boy had a pulse when taken from the cruise ship.

Comments are being made on the on-line Disney message boards that the child’s parents were not in the pool when the accident happened but ran over while emergency rescuers worked on the boy. There was no lifeguard at this particular swimming pool although the cruise line positions lifeguards near the water-slides some cruisers are saying. 

April 1, 2013 Update: Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships? 

Photo Credit: Fodors

Death on NCL's Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Jade Cruise Ship Katakolon GreeceAccording to a news account in Greece, a 25 year old Filipino crew member aboard the Norwegian Jade died when the cruise ship was in Katakolo, Greece.

In addition to the skimpy information contained in the newspaper, we learned that the incident occurred early this morning when cruise passengers were preparing to disembark for sightseeing ashore (including visiting the ruins of Olympia).

A mooring line snapped while the crew member was standing on a mooring deck platform (at the level of deck 7). The crew member was violently struck by the recoiling rope. He was knocked overboard and into the water at the port.  According to the news account, divers took several hours to retrieve the dead man's body in the murky water. 

The crew member was not fitted with either a harness or a life vest and he was not wearing a hard hat. (Some people say that his hard hat was subsequently found floating in the water).

This afternoon, the Norwegian Jade (previously named the Pride of Hawaii) continued on to its next port of call in Piraeus.  The Jade is flagged in the Bahamas.  It appears that the ship sailed without a representative of the Bahamas Maritime Authority conducting an inspection of the rope or analyzing the NCL Norwegian Jadeaccident and taking statements from the crew and witnesses.  The ship is now continuing to sail to Pireus this evening.   

Cruise lines like NCL have worked hard to strip crew members of their rights.  Crew members from the Philippines, in particular, are limited under the Philippines Overseas Employment Agreement (POEA) to very small death benefits even in cases like this where the cruise line failed to enforce basic safety procedures.  

You can read our article about the POEA here. NCL took the lead in enforcing unfair arbitration clauses which deprive seafarers of their rights under maritime law.

Without significant financial consequence to the cruise line in cases like this, there is no incentive to improve safety of the ship's hard working crew. 

If you have information about this fatality, please leave a comment below.     

Photo credits: Norwegian Jade - janiahola.fi; web cam - NCL; scene of accident - ekathimerini.com

NCL Norwegian Jade Death Greece

Join the discussion of this case on our Facebook page.

CLIA Safety Proposal Ignored: Lifeboat Plunges 60 Feet, 5 Dead

Thomson Majesty Lifeboat AccidentFollowing the Costa Concordia disaster last year, the Cruise Line International Organization (CLIA) announced 10 new safety proposals that all of the cruise lines were suppose to follow.

One proposal was that cruise lines would no longer load crew members in the lifeboats during safety drills. Instead, cruise lines were suppose to lower the lifeboats into the water first, load the crew members in next, and then practice motoring the lifeboat around. The proposal envisions only a few crew aboard during the lowering of the lifeboat, and they must be essential to the operation. 

Today we learn that at least 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship, apparently in violation of the new CLIA safety proposal, when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew are dead. 3 are injured. 

The cruise ship was docked at the pier of Santa Cruz port in La Palma, in the Canary Islands. Thomson Cruises is owned by the large German travel company TUI. The cruise ship is operated by Louis Cruises.

A local newspaper says that the nationality of the dead victims are three Indonesians, a Ghanian and a Filipino. The injured involve two Greek crew members in serious condition and a Filipino in what is being described as in less serious condition.   

There is a saying that most lifeboats drills injure or kill more crew than save lives. Lifeboats can fall suddenly due to operator error or suffer malfunctions of the moving parts or failure of the cables and hardware. The accident appears to have happened while the lifeboat was being raised. No one needs to be aboard the lifeboat when it is raised. A cable snapped on one side. A photograph on our Facebook page shows a frayed cable.  

You can see a dramatic lifeboat accident in a video here. Although it did not involve a cruise ship, you can see how things can go terribly wrong.

It's a shame that the lifeboat had crew members aboard while it was being lowered and raised in violation of the CLIA safety proposals. Why have 8 crewmembers in the boat while it is being raised anyway? The safety proposals are just that - proposals. It seems that at the end of the day, the cruise lines do whatever they want to do. 

Please leave a comment below or discuss this accident on our Facebook page

February 11 2013 Update: Cruise Critic has an interesting article: Lifeboat Tragedy: Did Cruise Line Ignore Safety Guidelines?  It quotes an expert on lifeboat drills:

"Alan Graveson, Senior International Secretary of Nautilus the U.K.-based seafarers' union, said: "I issued instructions seven years ago that preferably nobody should be in the lifeboat during a safety drill, and if that's not possible then there should be a maximum of two people.

"Lifeboats are meant to go one way -- and that's down -- I don't know why there were eight people onboard when they were winching it back up."

Photo credit: AP via Huffington Post.  Video credit: BBC News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's Happening to the FlowRiders on the Allure of the Seas?

For those of you who cruise regularly, you know that Royal Caribbean has two FlowRider attractions on both the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. The FlowRider is a surfing simulation where a thin wave of water is shot across a rubber surface and the passengers tries to surf or boogie board. 

Today I posted an image of what looks like repairs or major maintenance to one of the FlowRiders on the Allure.  You can see another image of the FlowRider below as the work continues.

Anyone know what's going on with the FlowRiders on the Allure?

If you know, join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Allure of the Seas - FlowRider - Oasis of the Seas

Is Cruising Safe? Depends On Who You Ask.

I read a tweet this evening which caught my eye:

"Is Cruising Safe?"  

I noticed that it was by Jane Wooldridge who many of you know as the business editor of the Miami Herald. I have been critical of the Miami Herald and its reporters who, like Ms. Wooldridge, are careful not to criticize the Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean which contribute substantially to their newspaper's advertising revenues.

Actually the tweet did not refer to an article in the Herald at all. Instead it linked to an article in Travel + Cruise Ship SafetyLeisure where Ms. Wooldridge answers her own question by assuring us that cruise ships accidents resulting in death are "very rare" and that the Concordia shipwreck was an "anomaly."  These are exactly the talking points that the cruise industry sent to its friends in the travel industry immediately after the Concordia hit the rocks a year ago. 

Ms. Wooldridge goes so far as to suggest that the recent safety proposals of having safety drills before cruising, keeping strangers out of the bridge and other long overdue basic practices may "eliminate such incidents altogether."

Now I am accustomed to delusional puff pieces like this from travel publication editors (Mr. Woolridge is also editor of Travel + Leisure). The most notorious pro-cruise puff pieces come from cruise cheerleader Carolyn Spencer-Brown, who is editor of the Expedia/Travel Advisor owned Cruise Critic publication. She loves to say that cruising is "absolutely safe."

The truth is that there have been far more deaths on cruise ships over the course of the past five years than other forms of major transportation. The U.S. based commercial aviation industry is remarkably safe.  The airlines had strict pre-flight checklists and safety procedures 50 years ago. And needless to say, the aviation industry never let the pilot's girlfriends hang out in the cockpit or permit jets to buzz towns for fun.  

Cruise lines also have a major problem with crimes committed by employees and drunk passengers against women and children. The chance of being raped on a cruise is twice that of being raped ashore. Airlines, railroads and buses simply do not have these types of problems.

Do you really think that public relations inspired proposals promoted in a travel magazine will prevent the next deadly cruise ship collision or shipboard fire?  Do you think that the new rules will Cruise Ship Safety protect your little girl from a pedophile male cabin attendant with a key card to your cabin?    

If you want sunshine blown up your caboose, then rely on Ms. Wooldridge or Ms. Spencer-Brown for an answer to the question "is cruising is safe?"  I guarantee that you will receive no real facts but lots of wonderful adjectives that accidents are "rare" and cruising is "absolutely" safe.

But if you want facts upon which base your own conclusions, check around for information from sources like Sociology Professor Ross Klein's informative website, or check out the website of the non-profit  International Cruise Victims, or read some of our articles about cruise ship accidents, deaths, sexual assault of women and molestation of children which the cruise lines and travel writers would prefer you not know.

Since 2005 I have been to seven Congressional hearings regarding cruise ship safety, including the last two hearings following the Costa Concordia disaster (photo above right). A half-dozen of my clients testified about the issue of whether cruise ships are safe.

I have not seen Ms. Wooldridge or Ms. Spencer-Brown at any of the hearings. 

Ferry Slams Into Pier in NYC: Over 50 People Injured

A commuter ferry slammed into a dock in lower Manhattan this morning during rush hour, injuring more than 50 people commuting into New York City. Newspapers report that at least two of the ferry passengers were critically injured.

CBS News states that the accident involved the Seastreak Wall Street. The New York Times states that the ferry is operated by Sea Streak Ferry, and provides daily service from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. It can accommodate several hundred passengers. There were over 300 SeaStreak Wall Street Ferry Crash in Manhatten passengers aboard at the time of the accident.

At the time of the impact the ferry was proceeding at a high rate of speed (with one passenger estimating around 60 MPH) when it violently struck the pier. Scores of people who had been standing up and waiting to disembark were hurled to the deck, into poles and walls, and down stairs. 

Some people described the accident like a big car crash.

57 people were reportedly injured according to the New York Times which showed dramatic photographs of passengers lying on flatboards with their heads and necks immobilized.

The Times mentions compares this incident to the October 15, 2003, accident when a Staten Island Ferry hit a maintenance pier at full speed, killing 11 and injuring 70 people.  A pilot, who had been incapacitated at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The investigators also faulted training and enforcement of safety rules. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating and gathering information about this latest incident. 

You can review the Seastreak's website here and its twitter page here.  One of the last tweets on Seastreaks page is by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg "Thanks to @SeaStreakNJNYC  . . . residents of the #Rockaways have an affordable & reliable way to get to #Manhattan."

Photographs of the scene in lower Manhattan look like a war zone:

Seastreak Wall Street Crash

Photo credit: Mark Lennihan / AP via New York Times.   

"Boob Cruise" Charter Boat Captain Ordered to Pay $350,000 in Compensation to Injured Woman

And now for some weird cruise news . . .

The owner and operator of  an Australian "boob cruise" charter boat, Dennis Healey, who was below deck with strippers when his boat collided with another smaller vessel, has been ordered to pay an injured woman almost $350,000 in compensation.

The incident involved the 56 foot catamaran "Two Up" which was under charter for a party. The charter boat had 30 passengers aboard including several strippers according to a newspaper in Australia.

An eighteen year old woman was seriously injured when she jumped into the water as the catamaran sailed into the vessel she was on.  

The judge presiding over the trial heard evidence that  the charter boat's captain was on the lower deck with the topless entertainers when the collision took place. The judge held that "his absence from the helm meant that no one was either manning it or keeping a lookout ahead." 

The young woman suffered lower back injuries which prevented her from working for 6 months. Her mother had to help her with cleaning, washing, shopping and taking her to medical appointments.

In addition to the civil compensation, the distracted captain was was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to unsafe operation of a boat.

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

Over 14 years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Coffman who has a very nice and exceedingly polite blog called CruiseDiva. Ms. Coffman's Twitter handle is @CruiseDiva

It was my first interview by anyone as best as I recall, long before I was interviewed on Larry King Live and Greta Van Sustern and the endless cable news talking heads.  I was a heck of a lot skinnier and had a nice head of hair 15 years ago. What the heck, 1,000 or so cases later, I certainly know a lot more now than I did then.

I have always felt a great appreciation to Ms. Coffman for the thoughtful interview well over a decade ago. I have added a few newer photographs, but the article is re-printed verbatim below:

CRUISES . . .  LIKE NO OTHER VACATION IN THE WORLD

Things that go bump in the night happen. And when they happen on a ship, the horror of the possibilities are heightened. Who would have paid to see the movie Titanic if the ship hadn't sunk? No one embarks on a cruise expecting the worst and no major cruise line purposely puts their guest and ships in danger, but the unexpected and unavoidable can occur during any voyage. In my travels, I've been rousted in the middle of the night by a fire alarm, spent the day at a Red Cross evacuation center, and suffered the indignity of Norovirus--all on dry land.

Cruise divaPerhaps the idyllic and carefree perception of cruise vacations is as much to blame as anything for passenger discontent when the slightest out-of-the-ordinary incident crops up. Cruise lines tout their products as 'simply the best' and 'like no other vacation on earth.' Are they telling the truth? Absolutely. It's true--the worst day on a cruise is better than any day on land. Unless, of course, your ship is on fire, the plumbing doesn't work, or you're dead in the water with a tropical storm fast approaching.  

No cruise line or ship's officers would purposely put their passengers and vessels in harms way. That simply wouldn't make sense. Often decisions to change course and skip a port are beyond their control, particularly when Mother Nature is calling the shots. And there are accidents. However, "unavoidable" is not much consolation to a cruising couple celebrating twenty-five years of marriage on the second honeymoon of a lifetime. 

Distracted by glamorous photos or dreams of moonlit walks on deck and midnight buffets, few passengers take the time to read the fine print, either in the cruise brochure or their ticket. Even if they do read it, the legal language can intimidate the average person.  

For an explanation of passengers' rights and assistance in translating the "contract of carriage" (cruise ticket), I turned to James M. Walker.  A specialist in maritime law, Mr. Walker is a member of the Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer - Miami Florida Maritime Law Association and serves on the Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar. In addition to having the unique perspective of representing both cruise lines and passengers, he has handled cases for clients throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America.  

Mr. Walker graciously answered my questions, providing insight into passenger rights and what to do if things go terribly wrong on your vacation. 

How did you become involved in maritime law involving cruise ships? 

I grew up in a port city and our family traveled a lot. Our vacations seemed to revolve around the water - a trip down the Rhine, vacation in Malta, sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, and so on. I have always had an interest in the water. This turned into an interest in maritime law once I started law school at Tulane University, which has a pretty good maritime curriculum. Once I moved to Miami, rightfully called the “cruise ship capital of the world,” I joined a large firm which defended some of the larger cruise lines.  

Now that I am exclusively representing passengers and crew employees, I find myself traveling again on a regular basis. My practice provides me with the opportunity to travel to beautiful places like Vancouver and London, as well as small towns across the heartland of the United States, to meet with our clients.

What are your thoughts as a maritime lawyer regarding the collision involving the Norwegian Dream in the English Channel and the fire aboard Carnival’s Tropicale in the Gulf of Mexico some time back? 

These incidents raise important questions whether the cruise lines are devoting sufficient resources to protect passengers’ health and personal safety. Unfortunately, these mishaps are not isolated incidents. 

Cruise ship fireTake the fire aboard the Tropicale. Despite wide spread media coverage, few major news organizations reported the Tropicale’s prior problems which could be traced back to 1982 when a fire broke out during its inaugural cruise. 

Before the Tropicale fire, Carnival’s Ecstasy caught fire the previous year. Between those two incidents, the Sun Vista ignited off of the coast of Malaysia and 1,000 passengers found themselves in lifeboats in the Straits of Malacca. The video images of the Ecstasy on fire off of Miami Beach are hard to forget, but few people remember that the Ecstasy caught fire in 1996 as well. Carnival‘s experience with ship fires is not limited to the Tropicale or the Ecstasy. Remember the fire aboard Carnival’s Celebration in 1995 which forced 1,700 passengers to evacuate? All of this, and more, occurred in just four years.

Cruise ship fireAfter each incident of this type, the cruise lines immediately offer a reimbursement of some type and, perhaps, a free cruise. Inevitably, the story becomes old and everyone - including the cruise line - forgets about what happened, until the next collision, fire, or other mishap occurs.

A LOOK AT COMPENSATION

What do you think of the practice of some cruise lines offering free cruises to “compensate” for these type of mishaps?

It’s a good start, but is it adequate compensation? Lets look at the “cruise from hell” stories from the Tropicale. These passengers included families who brought their minor children aboard, couples honeymooning, or elderly citizens who used their limited savings for a relaxing vacation. Through no fault of their own, these nice people quickly found themselves in a nightmare - drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, nauseated, with a tropical storm approaching. Carnival’s offer of a full refund and a free cruise is a good idea, but is it adequate remuneration for their experiences? Does this reflect a greater commitment to safety, or just a more savvy public relations department?

The cruise lines are more likely to offer free cruises now than just a few years ago. Compare Carnival’s approach today with its attitude just a few years ago. In 1996, hundreds of passengers became sick and frightened when highs seas rocked the Tropicale as Hurricane Roxanne approached. 600 passengers signed a petition for a full refund. They believed that the captain threatened their safety by taking the cruise ship too close to the hurricane. Carnival responded with a $40 shipboard credit to make up for port charges on the missed ports in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Does anyone really think this was sufficient compensation? Or was this just a public relations nightmare?       

Do you have any feel for how the passengers themselves regard these offers? 

Some passengers appreciate the “full-refund-plus-a-free-cruise” offer. But many people are not satisfied. The last thing they want to do is to step foot on a particular cruise ship again. 

Cruise law Of course, the debate of a “free cruise or not” ignores the real issue of passenger safety. The important question is whether the cruise industry is devoting adequate financial resources to make their fleet as safe as possible for families and their children. Things like state of the art sprinkler systems, sophisticated security monitoring, and vigorous background checks on their employees.

Remember, this industry earns literally billions each year in profits, and pays less than one percent in U.S. taxes by registering their vessels in Liberia and Panama. The notion that the traveling public should be happy with a free cruise and a tote bag trivializes the fundamental issue of protecting the precious lives and personal safety of millions of passengers every year.

What is the most common complaint you hear from a cruise passenger?

There are two general types of complaints. The first is what I call the “disappointed expectation” complaint. A passenger becomes disappointed because he or she feels that the service was poor, the weather was bad, their cabin had too much engine noise, or something like this. These type of complaints generally do not belong in a courtroom.

The second type of problem is when a passenger has been injured aboard the cruise ship, due to an accident, food poisoning, or an assault. The most common situation is when a passenger slips on a deck, trips on an elevated threshold, or falls down a flight of stairs. It happens on every cruise.

The most common complaint we hear is when a passenger writes to the cruise line regarding a particular problem, and does not receive a response after several months. Most passengers who contact us are not the least bit “lawsuit-minded.” Yet, they find themselves frustrated by the cruise line’s lack of response after they return home.

What are some of the interesting cases you have handled?

When we defended several of the cruise lines in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, we saw virtually every imaginable type of claim. Of course, with more than five million people sailing on cruises from U. S. ports each year - and everyone attempting to escape from reality - there are a lot of unrealized dreams which turn into strange lawsuits. Single women sue claiming that there were not enough single men aboard the cruise ship. The next week, single men sue claiming that there were not enough single women.

My favorite story involves an elderly widow from Miami Beach who loved to sail aboard from Miami at least three times a year. Unfortunately, she would trip or slip or fall every other cruise. She would file suit every year in December and then try to settle the case as soon as possible for at least two free cruises - first class no less. She still sends me a holiday greeting card every December. 

You would agree that there is no constitutional or absolute right to a perfect vacation or cruise?

True.

So what are the types of things which go wrong that are not the cruise line’s responsibility?

Most problems which fall into the “disappointed expectation” category are not the cruise maritime lawyerline’s legal responsibility. An example would be when cruise lines change the itinerary and the passengers miss a popular port.

The courts determine whether a cruise line is legally responsible to a passenger by reviewing the terms of the passenger ticket. I saw one judge literally pull out a magnifying glass to read the fine print buried in the ticket. The passenger invariably loses when this occurs, which is not surprising. The cruise lines have spent considerable effort drafting language which protects them from virtually every imaginable situation. The exception is when a passenger has been injured or assaulted - there is a federal statute which prohibits cruise lines from limiting their liability in these circumstances. However, this exception may not apply if the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port. 

Cruise lines reserve the right to change their itineraries at their discretion. Do passengers have any right to compensation or a refund (other than port charges) if such a change is made?

No, based on the “fine print” in the ticket. For example, Royal Caribbean’s language says that it “may at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing or port of call.” As a public relations gesture, some cruise lines offer $100 or so for missing a port. But this is dependent entirely on the cruise line; they hold all of the cards in these type of situations. 

Theft from staterooms is pretty uncommon on cruise ships, but if something disappears mysteriously from my cabin, what recourse do I have?      

Virtually none. Again, most tickets limit the cruise line’s liability for theft. Carnival excludes any liability for money, jewelry, or other valuables “left lying about the vessel or cabin.” This Cruise attorneyseems reasonable enough. But even if the cruise lines is negligent, there is a $100 limit of liability for lost valuables, and a $500 limit if the valuables are deposited in a safe-deposit box in the purser’s office and then lost or stolen. 

One reported case involved a passenger who reported the loss of several hundred thousands of dollars in jewelry. The court dismissed the case based on the language in the passenger’s ticket limiting the cruise line’s liability to $100. My only advice is to leave your priceless jewelry at home, or buy insurance before you sail. 
 
STEPS TO A RESOLUTION
 
Before seeking the assistance of an attorney, what steps should a passenger take to resolve a claim?

First, read your ticket and take steps to protect your rights! Passengers who are injured have to send a letter to the cruise lines within a short period, usually six months, advising the cruise line that they intend to seek compensation. Also, passengers have a very short period - usually only one year - in which to file suit when they have been injured. If they are one day late, they lose their right to seek compensation.    

When a passenger is injured on a cruise ship, what proof should they present to substantiate a claim for personal injury?

Of course, not all injuries are compensable. There are two issues to consider. The first issue is liability - it is the passenger’s burden to prove that the cruise line is legally responsible for the accident. The second issue is damages - medical expenses, lost wages, and other intangible losses caused by an injury. This issue is simple; keep receipts of all of your out-of-pocket expenses, insurance claims, and medical bills. Be sure to request your shipboard medical records before you disembark. The cruise lines will usually try to put you off the ship without them, but remember - these are records of your health, and you are absolutely entitled to obtain a copy before you leave. 

The most important issue is liability. A passenger will need proof that the cruise line was negligent. First, passengers have to establish that there was a danger aboard the ship, such as an unexpected step-down without any warning signs. Secondly, they must establish that cruise lawyerthe cruise line knew or should have known of the hazard, yet failed to correct the hazard or warn passengers of the danger. This is often quite difficult to establish.  

As a practical matter, passengers need to take photographs and video of the accident scene, take notes and document what occurred, and record the names and addresses of all witnesses. In seventeen years of practicing law, I have never seen a cruise line respond to a passenger’s complaint by saying “yes, we are responsible - sorry, here is your check.” Cruise lines are not in the business of giving away their money. You have to be prepared to fight for what you are entitled.   

What is the most important thing for a passenger to remember if they intend to seek compensation from a cruise line?  

Don’t forget the one year limitations period! Many cruise lines correspond, quite pleasantly, back and forth with passengers regarding their claims. They invite the passenger to submit medical reports. A month or two later, they request other documents, implying that additional information is necessary to evaluate the claim. The cruise lines never mention the one year limitations period, but they know that the clock is ticking away on the passenger’s rights. On the 365th day, when the limitations period has expired, they notify the passenger that the claim is barred. I cannot tell you how many times passengers contact us after the one year period has expired. The ball game is over! There is very little we can do at this point.

Could you explain what steps you take to negotiate a resolution between a passenger and a cruise line?

If we believe that the cruise line is at fault, our approach is always to send correspondence to the cruise line’s risk management department and attempt to establish a dialog.  

Cruise lawyerMany lawyers by-pass the negotiation stage and file suit immediately. This is not always in a passenger’s best interest. The passenger usually lives in a distant state or in Canada or Europe. All cruise lines require that the lawsuit must be filed in a certain city, such as Miami. The passengers will therefore have to travel to Miami to appear for a deposition and for trial. Over 90% of our clients live outside of Florida, and over 30% live abroad. It is expensive to travel to and from Miami, and these expenses usually cannot be recovered from the cruise line even if they are found responsible.     

We therefore try to make a good faith effort to present our client’s case efficiently, and to submit the medical documentation necessary for the cruise lines to make a reasonable offer without the necessity of a lawsuit. Certain cruise lines offer fair compensation in meritorious cases. Other companies play “hard ball” on every claim. They will not offer anything until the lawsuit is filed and the trial date is approaching.

When all else fails and a lawsuit is the last resort, how long can a passenger expect the process to take?

It depends from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Florida, it can take a year to two years before the case is tried. Then there is the potential for another year if an appeal is taken. Patience is a desirable trait to develop.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We hope that your readers have a safe and enjoyable cruise. 

 

Photo Credits 

Linda Coffman   Ms. Linda Coffman

Sun Vista cruise ship      Sun Vista "Were You There?" website

 

20 Crew Members Injured During Cruise Ship Lifeboat Drill

A newspaper in Finland is reporting that twenty crew members received injuries during a lifeboat drill aboard the Findlandia cruise ship operated by Eckerö Line in Tallinn.

The newspaper states that crew members suffered broken bones and sprained ankles, as well as friction burns caused by trying to slow their descent during the steep drop into a life raft. 

Unlike most lifeboat systems in which the crew will board the lifeboat and then descend into the water, the system on the Findlandia involves a chute which drops straight down to the life rafts in the water. It does not look much different than chutes which construction crews use in dumping Eckero Line  Findlandia Lifeboat Drillconstruction debris from upper floors into a dumpster on the street below.

You can see the system in the photograph to the left. It looks very dangerous.

The drill was suspended only when the Eckerö crew members refused to follow their colleagues down the chute.

”The exercise should have been called off as soon as the injuries came,” said a representative of a Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi.

A representative of the Finnish Seamen’s Union stated that the evacuation system used is "unsuitable and dangerous," although it was approved in the European Union.

 

Photo credit: D. Stenbäck / Trafi

Hat tip for story: CruiseInd and Cruisejunkie 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Killed During Dune Buggy Excursion in Mexico

A number of newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel are reporting on the death of a young couple who cruised to Cozumel and died during a dune buggy accident last Saturday.  

Jim Melillo and Susan Borges sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and signed up for a dune buggy excursion with a number of their friends. They were killed when the dune buggy in which they were riding (driven by another cruise passenger) apparently lost control and struck a metal guardrail. 

The Orlando Sentinel quotes the group members commenting that the dune buggies had poor safety conditions and many of the buggies did not even have seat belts. A Mexican newspaper identifies the dune buggy rental company as "Paraíso" car rental. The dune buggy excursion was not sold through the cruise line.

Even if the excursion were sponsored by Royal Caribbean, there is case law indicating that the cruise line may not be liable in a case like this. In John Morrell & Co. v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 534 F. Supp. 2d 1345, 2008 AMC 936 (S.D. Fla. 2008), a company paid for twelve of its employees to go on a cruise on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. When the ship was in Cozumel, Mexico, several employees went on a dune buggy expedition that Royal Caribbean made available, but was owned and operated by a Cozumel company. A dune buggy was involved in an accident which caused it to swerve and flip, causing serious injuries to one of the employees resulting in $170,000 in medical benefits and disability benefits.

The court found that Royal Caribbean was not liable for the accident. The cruise ship did not supervise the operation and had no duty to warn passengers of possible dangers in such a trip, as the dangers are obvious the court held. 

 

The couples's family and friends set up a facebook tribute page and a website, Jim and Susan Fund, where you can donate in their memory.  

Norwegian Star - Explorer of the Seas Collision Caught on Video!

A passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas video-taped the collision with the NCL Norwegian Star last week (September 14, 2012) in port in Bermuda.  The NCL ship was hit by high winds (75 MPH) which caused the Star to break away from its mooring lines and strike the stern of the Royal Caribbean ship.

The video was shot from the Windjammer cafe and you can hear the passengers excitedly chattering and sometimes laughing throughout the incident. A Royal Caribbean officer appears in the video and says "you hit my ship!"

The video is by Floobboober (YouTube):

 

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

The newspaper Today reports that cruise passengers from a cruise ship were involved in a serious accident while riding in an excursion bus to the Loterie Farm excursion in St. Martin.  Cruise Critic U.K. reports that the passengers were from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. 

The incident occurred last Thursday while 36 cruise passengers were riding in the excursion bus heading to a zip line adventure / canopy tour at Loterie Farm. The excursion is called the Loterie Farm Treetop Adventure Tour

According to these newspaper accounts, the excursion bus lost control as it was descending a hill, causing it to strike an oncoming taxi and then plummet into a ridge. A photograph of the overturned taxi is to the right. A passenger provided the Today newspaper the following account of the accident

Excursion Bus - Taxi Accident - Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas“Just after we went through the Loterie Farm gate we felt the driver hit the brakes but no brakes, and then the bus just started careening down. About half way down we hit a speed bump and everyone hit the ceiling and then the bus just continued rolling down the hill. There was a guy driving coming up the hill while we were going down so we ran into him, flipped that vehicle over and then ran straight down into the ditch. Tree branches got into the bus and many people received whip lashes from the branches. Everyone was screaming manically, we thought we were plunging to our deaths but the tree saved us. The bus driver was pretty much shook up though.”

Accidents involving cruise excursion buses like this are not as uncommon as the cruise lines will admit.

In January, a cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from a Royal Caribbean ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to eleven cruise passengers. The passengers were traveling from the Serenade of the Seas cruise ship in the safari bus when the open air bus lost control going down an embankment, struck a parked car and then went over a ridge. Royal Caribbean stated that eleven of the passengers were immediately transported to a local area hospital.

Two years ago a young man from a Princess cruise ship was killed and numerous passengers were injured in a cruise bus excursion in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess.

The previous year, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  

In September 2010, an excursion bus carrying cruise passengers plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco (Castillejos) and killed nine Portuguese tourists. 14 cruise passengers were injured.

It is currently unknown whether this latest accident involved a mechanical breakdown or was due to driver error. There are conflicting accounts of the extent of the passengers' injuries.  Some passengers were taken to a local hospital.

If you have photos or video of the incident that you wish to share, please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo credit: Today newspaper

Cruise Law - Coming to a Theater Near You!

People ask me why I practice "cruise law." My answer?  It's the most exciting type of law practice possible, like being in a movie - except it's the real world with real people.

Consider the news in the world of cruising this year. 

A showboating and debonair Italian captain runs a $500 million luxury cruise liner into the rocks.  He puts his blond girlfriend into one of the first lifeboats to safety. His officers announce on the PA system that "the situation is under control. Go back to your cabins." He abandons ship, claiming that his slipped and fell into a life boat. Passengers as young as 5 and as old as 70 then drown.

Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship DramaIf this were a movie, no one would believe such an outrageous script.        

Click on the TV and chances are you'll see Images of cruise ships adrift on the high seas. These are not rusting freighters from third world nations.  They are the cruise lines' best, biggest, safest and most technologically advanced cruise ships carrying the most precious cargo in the world - your families.

This year alone we've seen cruise line abandonment of mariners in distress, abuse of crew members, capsizing, collisions, conspiracy, cover-ups, crimes, disappearances, engine failures, fires, groundings, and union busting involving Azamara, Carnival, Costa, MSC, Norwegian, P & O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Saga Cruises and many other cruise lines.

When a passenger or crew member is injured or a victim of crime on the high seas, the cruise lines are their worst enemy.  The deceit and double-dealing by the cruise lines are right out of a bad movie script.

I have written over a thousand articles about bad behavior of cruise ship over the last couple of years.

There will be no end of the stories in the future. 

Our firm is on the edge of the drama, always ready to help a cruise passenger in distress or a crew member needing medical care.  In an industry which cares most about it's own image and reputation rather than your family's health and safety, we are always eager to help the underdog.  In the process, we will expose "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."    

Bogus Cruise Ship Accident Exposed

Closed circuit television (CCTV) video helped the Sun Cruz Casino defend a claim made by a passenger who staged a fake accident at the bottom of a stairwell on the ship.

The video shows an elderly man walking repeatedly up and down a stairwell, apparently rehearsing how the accident will unfold.  When no one is looking, he gently kneels down and rolls over. That's when the acting starts.  He begins squealing in pain and claims that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, hip, knee and ankle.  He is taken from the "accident scene" on a stretcher.

The cruise passenger retains a lawyer who is smart enough to verify whether an accident really occurred by requesting "all video of the accident."

The cruise line complies. Upon receiving the video below, the lawyer drops the claim like a hot potato. 

Do fake accidents like this occur? Yes, as this video proves.

The first thing that we do when we represent a cruise passenger who alleges a serious accident or being a victim of a crime is to request CTTV of the circumstances surrounding the accident or crime. Sometimes cruise lines will show us videos which contradict our client's account.  That's a good thing. No one wants to have anything to do with a bogus or exaggerated claim. But that's extremely rare.

Most of the time, the cruise lines ignore us.  When we press the matter, the cruise lines claim that there is no video of an accident.  I have never seen a cruise line produce an incriminating video which confirms an accident or crime. Cruise lines typically argue that there is no CCTV cameras at that location, or the cameras didn't work, or the tape was inadvertently erased, or the dog-ate-it type of excuse.  

I even had a case where I proved that there was CTTV video of my client's accident that was given by the ship security to the defense lawyer.  But at the hearing on my motion to compel the production of the video, the defense lawyer argued that the video was in a video player which was allegedly stolen during a break-in at the law firm. Evidence destruction is a problem in the cruise industry.

In this case, its nice to see the fake claim against Sun Cruz exposed.  Now only if the cruise lines will produce video of all of the legitimate accidents and crimes.      

 

Video Credit: My Fox Tampa Bay / Peter Linton-Smith, FOX 13 Pasco Bureau Reporter

Silversea Silver Shadow Collides with Container Ship

CNN iReport contains a first hand account from a passenger describing a collision between Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow cruise ship and what is being described as a Vietnamese container ship near Halong bay, Vietnam. The report indicates damage to both the cruise ship and the container ship.   The passenger's account and a photograph of the damaged container ship are below:

"We're on Silversea silver shadow cruise ship and we just collided with a Vietnamese container ship near Halong bay, Vietnam. We slammed into the side of it, in thick fog

Silversea Silver Shadow Collision - VietnamThe other ship was severely damaged, and crew hurt, damage to our ship is being asessed in hong kong. Passengers were called to muster stations.

Our ship has a hole in the bow, heres a pic of the other ship, it was struck in two places - their bridge, and we ripped a large tear in the side too.

I have more pics of the damage, sending this from my cellphone.

Many Brits and U.S. on board

Cruiseline is down playing incident but its serious.

Andrew lock  Sent from my iPhone"

11:00 AM Update: Silversea Cruises issued a press statement this morning, admitting only that a “minor incident” occurred last Friday (March 16th) as the cruise ship was approaching Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

"Silver Shadow was involved in a minor incident on March 16, 2012 at around 4:20 GMT as it was approaching the pilot station in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. There was contact between Silver Shadow and a local commercial vessel. Silver Shadow incurred limited minor dents and guests' safety was never compromised. The ship was fully operational and continued on its course to Ha Long Bay where all shore tours operated normally.  Silversea will carry out a full investigation into the incident."

Silvereas is mum regarding the extent of the damage to the container vessel or whether there were casualties aboard the other vessel.  

Silverseas did not release information until after the collision was reported on CNN and mentioned repeatedly on Twitter. 

2:00 PM Update:

Cruise passenger Andrew Lock has a facebook page where he uploaded photos and a video describing the events. 

CNN has excellent coverage of the story.  CNN's video is below:  

 

 

If you were on the cruise and have additional information, photographs or video, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  Andrew Lock via CNN iReport  

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

A cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from a Royal Caribbean ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to cruise passengers. 

The passengers were traveling from the Serenade of the Seas cruise ship in the safari bus when the open air bus lost control going down an embankment.

Royal Caribbean stated that eleven of the passengers were immediately transported to a local area hospital.  The Royal Caribbean PR person, Cynthia Martinez, stated that "ten were treated for minor injuries, two were uninjured, and one was seriously injured."  Twelve of the 13 passengers Serenade of the Seas - St. Thomasreturned to Serenade of the Seas and will continue on the sailing.

One passenger sustained a fractured hip and remains in St. Thomas for further medical treatment.

Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise passengers were participating in the "Best of St. Thomas and Shopping" shore excursion. 

Accidents like this are not as uncommon as the cruise lines will admit.  Two years ago a young man from a Princess cruise ship was killed and numerous passengers were injured in a cruise bus excursion in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess.

The previous year, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  We represented 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 and poorly maintained. 

It remains to be seen whether this vehicle was properly equipped and maintained.

Update:

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that there was much more to the accident than admitted by Royal Caribbean.  The newspaper reports that a "safari taxi carrying 13 cruise ship tourists on a shore excursion darted from Skyline Drive on Friday morning, levelling mailboxes, striking a parked SUV, launching itself over the ridge and plunging 65 feet into thick bush.   . . . The crash broke one woman's hip and caused a cut on one passenger's forehead that required stitches."

Taxicab Commission Executive Director Judith Wheatley said that there have been several recent accidents which have "put safari safety into the spotlight."

Carnival Cruise Passenger Falls to His Death on the Fantasy

Fantasy Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that a 26-year-old American passenger aboard a Carnival cruise ship fell to his death.  

The incident occurred on the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship.  The man apparently fell from the upper levels all the way down to the lobby level of the cruise ship

The cruise ship docked in Nassau, Bahamas last night.  Its departure today was delayed due to an investigation into the casualty. 

Bahamas police said in a statement today that the passenger was from South Carolina.  

The ship departed Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday for a five-day Bahamas cruise.  It is still scheduled to return to Charleston on Monday.

Were you on the cruise?  Do you have information regarding what happened?  Please leave a message below.

 

 

Video:  ABC News Charleston

FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

A year and a half ago, I wrote about the danger of serious injury and death created by the "FlowRider" attraction on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship.  The article is entitled Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents.

In the article, I discussed that the cruise line forces the passengers to sign "Onboard Activities Waivers" before they can participate in certain activities on board the cruise ships.  Royal Caribbean claims that these "waivers" protect it from lawsuits whenever a cruise passenger is injured on a FlowRider, as well as during zip lining, rock climbing, or ice skating activities on the cruise ship.  We disagree.  In our article stated, we stated in no uncertain terms that:

".  .  .  these waivers are invalid.  They violate U.S. Federal law which prohibits shipping companies FowRider - Cruise Ship - Royal Caribbeanand cruise lines avoiding or limiting liability for injuries and deaths on the high seas . . .  if you are seriously injured, check with a maritime lawyer before you take the cruise line's word that their so-called 'waivers' are valid."

Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal agreed with us.  In a case involving a client represented by our firm and our co-counsel Jonathan Aronson, the Eleventh Circuit struck down the Royal Caribbean "Onboard Activities Waiver," pursuant to a  federal statute, 46 U.S.C. § 30509. 

The Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

"Johnson was a passenger on the Oasis of the Sea cruise ship owned by Royal.  One of the attractions of this ship was the FlowRider - a simulated surfing and body boarding activity.  Before purchasing a ticket to participate in the FlowRider attraction, Johnson was instructed to sign her name to an electronic "Onboard Activity Waiver" ("the waiver").  When she signed her name to the waiver, Johnson agreed to release Royal and its employees from actions "arising from any accident [or] injury. . . resulting from . . . [her] participation in any or all of the shipboard activities [she] has selected." 

While receiving instruction for the body boarding portion of FlowRider, Johnson received instructions from an instructor employed by Royal ("Mike") that deviated from the regular use of the body boards, which are different from the surfboards.  Mike instructed Johnson to stand on the body board while he was holding it.  When he released the board, Johnson fell off the board and suffered a fractured ankle.  The maneuver attempted by Mike with Johnson was in violation of Royal's safety guidelines for the FlowRider attraction. These guidelines specifically state that the boards for the surfing portion can be stood upon, while the boards used for the body boarding portion should only be used while lying down."

After we filed suit against Royal Caribbean, the cruise line argued that the waiver precluded our client from recovering for her injuries.  The trial court agreed and ended our case a few days before trial.  We appealed.

In an opinion released yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the lower court.  The appellate court ruled that the Royal Caribbean waiver violated 46 U.S.C. § 30509 which prohibits contractual provisions which attempt to limit the liability of the owner of ships for "personal injury or death caused by the negligence or fault of the owner or the owner's employees or agents."   The court held that the statute was clear and unambiguous, and there was no exception for recreational, inherently dangerous, or ultra hazardous activities.  Although waivers of this type may be enforceable on land, such waivers are illegal and unenforceable on the high seas.

The ruling is significant because there has been at least one death and numerous serious injuries to cruise passengers on the Royal Caribbean FlowRiders.

The interesting thing about this appeal is that in addition to the efforts of Royal Caribbean, the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), filed an amicus curiae brief, trying to convince the appellate court to strip the rights of passengers who are injured during cruises.  If successful with this case, Royal Caribbean and the other 25 CLIA cruise lines undoubtedly would have required cruise passengers to sign waivers for all shipboard activities.  I doubt that any travel agents who are members of CLIA know what the cruise lines were up to.

The appeal was handled by appellate specialist Phil Parrish.    

You can read the entire opinion here.  And don't forget to watch "Royal Caribbean WipeOuts!" video below:

 

 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420

Photo:       Cruise Critic

Atlantis Jet-Ski Accident in Nassau: Was A Carnival Cruise Passenger Killed?

A number of readers of our blog have contacted us asking for information about a jet ski mishap where a cruise passenger apparently died in the Bahamas on November 24th.

The incident reportedly occurred after the cruise passenger rented a jet ski at the Atlantis resort in Nassau.  The passenger had sailed to Nassau aboard the Carnival Magic cruise ship.

There are no news accounts regarding the incident which we have been able to find.  

One reader wrote to us saying: 

" . . . I think it would be good to have more openness so that people can make better informed decisions about activities when they go on vacation. I think it's atrocious that it is obviously being covered up. I also checked all avenues before I wrote you a note. It is real but I don't know how to get the information out."

The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

There are lots of articles on line about jet ski accidents in the Bahamas, including this article dating back to 2004. 

If you were on the Magic and have information about this incident, please leave a comment below.

November 30, 2011 Update:

A reader left a comment below and alerted us that there is a video from the Bahamas about the incident.  The victim was apparenty 47 years old and from Texas. 

 

 

Video credit:  Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas

Cruise Passenger Seriously Injured in Jet Ski - Banana Boat Accident in Cayman Islands

Multiple news sources are reporting that a sixteen year old girl vacationing in the Cayman Islands during a cruise is in a critical condition following a collision between a jet ski and a "banana boat" near Seven Mile Public Beach.

The incident occurred shortly after noon on Thursday.  The local police stated that the jet ski was being ridden by a seventeen year old cruise passenger when it ran into the "banana" inflatable raft which was being towed by a power boat. 

Two females, aged sixteen and twenty-four years old, were thrown from the inflatable raft.  They were transported to the Cayman Islands Hospital for treatment.  The twenty-four year old woman was released from the hospital, but the teenager remains in a critical condition and is apparently being airlifted here to Florida for treatment.

The newspapers covering the story indicate that all three people involved in the incident were cruise ship passengers.

So far, there is no indication regarding the name of the cruise ship or whether this was a cruise sponsored excursion. 

Three Princess Cruises Passengers Hospitalized in Bermuda

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Princess CruisesThe Bermuda Sun reports this week that three cruise passengers were taken to the hospital in Bermuda after Princess Cruises' Grand Princess arrived in port.

A female passenger reportedly broke her ankle, a male passenger suffered a heart condition, and another male passenger lost consciousness in the cruise ship's swimming pool.  

This was the Grand Princess’s only trip to Bermuda this year. 

Bermuda has recently lost a number of cruise lines as customers this year.  Holland America just announced that the Veendam will no longer visit Bermuda after next year, after making 24 cruises from New York this year.  That announcement occurred shortly after Carnival announced that it was cutting cruises to Bermuda from 16 trips by four cruise ships this year, to just one in 2012.

The president of Bermuda's Chamber of Commerce characterized these developments as a “big blow to the island’s economy.” 

 

Photo credit:  Grand Princess cruise ship in Bermuda Flickr (tribewantedgilligan)

How to Hire a Miami Maritime Lawyer to Sue a Cruise Line

Each year 14,000,000 people (yes 14 million) will go on a cruise.  There are literally hundreds of passengers, as well as crewmembers, who will suffer a serious back injury or break their ankle, leg or hip after slipping and falling while cruising.  Once back home after the cruise, they find it difficult to think of hiring a lawyer who they have never met in order to sue a large corporation in a far-off location like Miami.

But the process of hiring a Miami maritime lawyer to bring a claim against a cruise line like Carnival or Royal Caribbean is simple.

Jim Walker - Miami Maritime LawyerOver 95 percent of our firm's clients live out side of Florida.  If you have a question about an accident on a cruise ship, send us an email.  You can reach me directly: jwalker@cruiselaw.com  

You will receive an answer to your email right away.  We will need answers to four issues: 

When did the accident occur?  Remember that you have only one year to file a lawsuit against a cruise line!  This is a much shorter period of time than most land based injuries.

Which cruise line and which cruise ship were involved?  The majority of the cases we handle are against Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines.  These cases have to be filed here in Miami.  Other cruise lines like Princess Cruises have to be filed in California.  Holland America Line, for example, has to be sued in Seattle.  If we can't help you, we will find someone who can.

What happened and why is the cruise line responsible?  Be prepared to tell us not only how the accident occurred but why you think that the cruise line is liable.     

What injuries did you sustain?   The nature and extent of your injuries are important issues in your case.  Have you undergone surgery?   What type of medical treatment will you need in the future?  Once you retain us, we will quickly obtain copies of all relevant medical records and reports. 

If you prefer to call us, we look forward to speaking with you. We have a toll free number (800) 256-1518.  You will probably initially speak with one of our assistants, like Jan or Betsy (photo right, with client), who will ask you a few questions about the basic information listed above.  I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

If you decide to hire us, we work on a contingency fee.  This means that we do not bill you or ask for a retainer.  We are paid only if we are successful and obtain a settlement or a verdict.  You have nothing to lose. 

Miami Florida Maritime Law Firm We will send you four documents.

The first is the contingency fees agreement.  All lawyers who handle these type of cases must have a written contract with the client where everything is spelled out.  The second document is a statement of your rights as a client.  We will also send you a short questionnaire about your cruise accident.  The last document is a medical authorization so that we can obtain copies of your medical records.

We will email these items to you shortly after you email us or speak with us on the telephone.  Just fill out the forms and return them to us.  There is no need to travel to Miami to start your case.

One of the main reasons why cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean require that all claims be filed in Miami is that they know that it is inconvenient for injured passengers to do so.  That's why we make it easy for our clients to retain us.  Simply send us an email or make a single call.

I'm sure that you may have other questions, and I will be happy to spend as much time as necessary to provide answers for you.  I have been handling maritime injury cases since 1983.  Over ten years ago I was interviewed about the process of filing a claim against a cruise line. 

You can obtain additional basic information by reading the article here - Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Long Hours, Repetitive Injuries & Bad Medical Care Plague Royal Caribbean Crewmembers

Royal Caribbean Crewmembers - Miami Florida Cruise LawyerWe just settled a case we filed on behalf of a Jamaican crewmember who sustained a wrist injury while working as a cleaner aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  She is now able to support her two boys back in Ocho Rios (photo left). 

Her job responsibilities involved cleaning every single public lady bathroom on the cruise ship (around 30).  Mopping the floors, scrubbing the toilets, wiping the stalls and mirrors, every day of the week - Saturdays and Sundays included of course.  In addition, every embarkation day she was required to deliver hundreds of bags luggage from the elevators to the passengers' cabins.

She developed a painful and debilitating wrist injury.  She went to the ship doctor who gave her Ibuprofen and a sling to wear.  She then returned to full time duty wearing a sling.  I don't know how a one armed cleaner can possibly clean 30 bathrooms every day of the week and then carry hundreds of pieces of luggage on top of that.  Her salary was around $550 a month.

Royal Caribbean eventually sent her back to Jamaica.  Two general surgeons ended up operating on her wrist.  What they did exactly no one knows because neither one of these doctors prepared an operative report.  There are no hand specialists anywhere in Jamaica.  The crewmember's pain, numbness, swelling and limited motion did not improve.  Shortly after the second surgery and without ever providing physical therapy, the cruise line terminated her medical treatment and stopped paying the $12 a day daily stipend.  

After she called and explained her predicament, we filed suit, arranged for her to obtain a tourist visa, and then flew her to Miami for treatment with a U.S. board certified hand specialist.  After around $60,000 of medical care we forced the cruise line to pay, her symptoms finally resolved. We can't mention the amount of her settlement because the cruise line requires a confidentiality agreement regarding the settlement figure, but we can state that she was happy and, most importantly, pain free when she went home.

Cleaners, waiters, and cabin attendants work insane hours on Royal Caribbean ships.  Working 12 hours a Royal Caribbean Crew - Injuries - Accidents day minimum and up to 16 hours on embarkation day, they are instructed not to report more than 10 to 11 hours of work on their times sheets.

The human body is not designed to perform hard manual labor over 330 hours a month. 

Repetitive injuries to waiters who carry trays weighing 50 pounds or more are common.  Neck injuries, disc herniations in the low back, and rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder are common.  Then the cruise line sends these hard working employees to the four corners of the earth to receive bad medical care.         

The photo to the right is of another Jamaican client who sustained a severe wrist injury working as a cleaner on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  My partner, Lisa O'Neill, is shown discussing her injury in a hotel here in Miami.  My partner does not like to be mentioned on this blog, but she is the backbone of the team which we have who cares for injured crewmembers.   A substantial part of our law practice is flying injured Royal Caribbean crewmembers back to Miami for medical treatment which the cruise line refuses to provide.      

 

Photo credits:  Jim Walker

Slip and Fall on Carnival Cruise Ship Results in $2,998,000 Verdict

A Federal District Court Judge recently awarded a verdict in favor of a cruise passenger who was seriously injured in a slip and fall accident during a cruise aboard a Carnival cruise ship. 

The passenger, Ms. Denise Kaba, reportedly slipped and fell on the deck around a pool on the Carnival Pride cruise ship in August, 2009.  She sustained a fractured knee cap and which resulted in six surgeries and the need for surgery (knee replacement) in the future.

Carnival Slip and Fall Accident - Compensation - LawyerHer theory of liability was that the pool deck was covered with a resin surface which was  slippery as ice.  Carnival had notice of prior accidents on this type of dangerous surface.

Carnival admitted liability for the accident. The case was tried before the Court (without a jury) solely on the issue of damages. 

Judge Ursula Ungaro awarded $2,998,155.70 which consists of $170,483.00 for loss of earning capacity, $221,910.55 for past medical expenses, $373,564.00 for future medical expenses, $200,000.00 for past non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, and disability), $1,960,000.00 for future non-economic damages, and $ 72,198.15 in pre-judgment interest:  

The case is styled: Denise Kaba v. Carnival Corporation, United States District Court Southern District of Florida, Case No. 10-21627-CIV-UNGARO.

The passenger was represented by Jack Hickey and David Appleby of the Hickey Law Firm.

Carnival was represented by Tom Scott and Armando Rubio of the Cole, Scott & Kissane law firm.

 

For other recent awards entered against Miami-based cruise lines, read: Royal Caribbean Ordered to Pay $1,250,000 to Injured Crewmember.

 

Interested in similar articles like these?  Enter your email address in the box at the lower left  for free Cruise Law News updates .  .  . 

Carnival Passenger Killed on Jet Ski in the Bahamas

Multiple news stations are reporting today that a passenger from the Carnival Sensation cruise ship was fatally injured while in a serious accident involving a jet ski rented during a port call in Nassau. 

A second passenger sustained injuries and is recovering at a hospital in Nassau. 

Carnival states that the cruise passengers rented the jet ski directly from a local vendor.  The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

Carnival flew a "care team" from Miami to provide assistance to the passengers' families.  Carnival issued a statement: "All of us are deeply saddened by this event and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of those involved."

May 10th Update:

Accident like this are not isolated incidents.  BahamasB2B.com has the following story entitled "Another Bahamas Tourist Dies on a Jet Ski:"

"The continued failure of the Bahamas government to enforce jet-ski regulations might possibly be viewed as criminal negligence.

A female tourist from the United States died in a horrific jet-ski accident in Nassau Harbour around 5:00pm on Saturday.

The 27-year-old woman from Florida, and a male companion also in his late 20s, had rented a jetski after arriving in Nassau on a Carnival Cruise ship.

The pair was riding the jet-ski in Nassau Harbour when they crashed into a boat near the entrance of the harbour, off the Montagu Foreshore.

Despite efforts by paramedics, the woman died almost immediately upon arriving at the hospital.

Her male companion is in serious condition after suffering head injuries.

Police investigations are underway as police try to figure out who was actually driving the jet-ski, where they acquired the vehicle and the circumstances leading up to the deadly accident.

Concerns over the dangers of jet-skis and other watersports have been ignored for years by the Bahamas Government, depsite numeorus deaths and serious injuries.

There is a poorly enforced law that requires jet-ski operators to provide a 15-minute training session to anyone interested in renting a jet-ski. However, that is rarely done and never enforced.

The names of the victims have not yet been released."

You can read about other jet ski accidents in the Bahamas here

"Jet Ski Operators Defend Industry After Death" explains some of the problems with renting jet skis in the Bahamas.

Video: MSC Opera Cruise Ship Hits Dock in Buenos Aires

My Brazilian friend, Alexandre Gonçalves da Rocha, alerted me today to an accident which recenty occurred at the port in Buenos Aires when the MSC Opera struck the dock. 

Alexandre is a Brazilian who works as a maritime pilot at the port of Itajai since 1998 (no, he was not piloting this cruise ship!).  He writes a great maritime blog called "Safe Seas."  His article about this incident is here.

Cruise Industry News obained a statement from MSC Cruises which stated there was no threatening damage to the ship in what appeared to be a "minor mishap."  A passenger took a video of the damage and it does not look "minor" at all. 

Its humerous to see the crew members trying to wave the passengers away from taking photos or video.

Fortunately no one was injured when the cruise ship allided with the dock. 

 

 

Video credit:  wargalis youtube 

 

Accident on Oasis of the Seas Seriously Injures Crew Member

Cruise Law News has been contacted by two passengers this weekend, inquiring about a serious accident which occurred on the Oasis of the Seas.  The passengers are describing the incident as occurring during a crew fire drill while the cruise ship was at the port in Cozumel last Thursday, January 27th.  A crew member was badly injured and taken from the cruise ship by a medical team.

The captain of the Oasis made a number of announcements indicating that the crew member was in critical condition and underwent surgery.

 If you were you on the cruise and have pertinent information, please feel free to leave a message below.

January 29, 2011:  We received information that the accident occurred "during the mandatory drill an oxygen tank cracked and hit a crew member on the head.  Safety officer broke his leg."    

January 30, 2011 Update: a passenger comments below that a defective oxygen tank used during the fire drills 'took off like a rocket' and hit the crew member in the head and he was taken to Miami for emergency medical treatment.  

January 31, 2011 Update:  a cruise insider informs us that the Royal Caribbean crew member died on January 29, 2011.

Holland America Crew Member Killed In Life Boat Mishap

A 29 year old crew member died during a botched life boat training exercise in New Zealand today. 

According to newspapers in New Zealand, the accident occurred when crew members from Holland America Line's Volendam cruise ship were practicing life boats drills.  One of the wires attaching the lifeboat to the cruise ship snapped, throwing the two HAL crew members into the water in Lyttelton Harbor.  One of the crew members was rescued, but the other man who was wearing heavy clothing and boots went under water and did not reappear.  The crew members were reportedly not wearing a life jacket.

HAL has not released the name of the deceased crew member. 

January 9, 2011 Update:

We received a comment (below) from the Medical Officer on the HAL cruise ship, expressing his/her condolences.  We appreciate hearing from cruise line like this.  It shows compassion.  This is the first time in 500 blog articles that a cruise line has posted a comment on our blog following a crew member death or injury. 

A newspaper in New Zealand has a follow up article on the crew member death - "Liner Crew Traumatized by Shipmate's Drowning" - indicating that the cruise ship's 600 crew members were "obviously traumatised by the whole thing . . .  they all know each other pretty well, so they are quite upset."

Carnival Cruise Line Settlement Keeps Getting Publicity

Yesterday I reported on a settlement which a passenger from Texas reached after she was seriously injured while trying to step off a tender boat onto the dock in Grand Cayman.  The case illustrates the liability of cruise lines when they fail to safely transfer their passengers from the cruise ship to shore during ports of call.     

The passenger was seriously injured and underwent surgery with the insertion of plates and screw.  This type of injury is painful, the surgery and recovery are painful, and the medical expenses are substantial.  After fling suit, the Carnival passenger reached a $125,000 settlement with Carnival cruise line.  

The settlement was picked up by a local news station, CBS News 4 in Miami, and then I blogged about it, and then it was discussed by the very popular USA Today cruise blog called "CruiseLog" this morning, and by the afternoon a news station Cayman 27 in Grand Cayman was reporting about the settlement.    

The CruiseLog readers, who are usually conservative, pro-cruise and anti-lawuit minded, concluded that the settlement was too much, which is strange because it seems to be a rather modest settlement.  But the interesting thing is that such a modest settlement received so much attention - from a local news station in Miami - to a national newspaper - to a news station in the Caribbean.

Settlements like this are usually confidential because the cruise lines require secrecy.  Cruise lines hate publicity like this.  It is inconsistent with the image cruise lines try and project, and the cruise lines think that it encourages others to file suit.  But the truth is that cruise lines like Carnival make billions upon billions of dollars each year and pay no taxes by incorporating in foreign countries like Panama and flying foreign flags on their cruise ships.  Carnival also has literally billions of dollars in insurance.   

Anytime a passenger falls between a tender boat and a dock, it is going to be a case of liability.  Cruise lines have a duty of "high care" for getting passengers, particularly elderly passengers, safely to shore.  So a settlement like this is almost a certainty. 

Although this case has received alot of interest in the media, a $125,000 settlement is pocket change for a corporation like Carnival when it lets a passenger fall between a tender and a dock.  

  

 

 

Video credit:      Cayman 27 News

Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers on Tender Boats

Local CBS News 4 reports on a settlement reached yesterday between Carnival cruise line and a passenger trying to exit from a tender boat. 

Elizabeth Reimer of Texas sailed out of Galveston to the Caribbean.  When the cruise ship reached Grand Cayman, the cruise ship ferried passengers to and from the port via tender boats operated by a local company.  Ms. Reimer was seriously injured when she fell trying to exit from a tender Tender Boat - Cruise Ship - Grand Cayman - Carnival Cruiseboat to the dock.  The vessel moved away from the dock and her leg fell into the gap, breaking her tibia. 

Cruise lines have a duty to safely transport cruise passengers to and from port.  In many ports, the local docks can not accommodate large cruise ships and have to bring the passenger to and from the port via tender boats.  The process is called "tendering."

Some cruise lines carry their own tender boats on the side of the cruise ships.  Other cruise lines use local companies at the cruise port to tender the passengers.  

Many accidents occur when the tender is not safely secured to the cruise ship or the dock.  Some accidents occur because there is insufficient assistance provided by the cruise lines to elderly passengers trying to get ashore from the tenders.  Other accidents occur during rough weather.  Accidents occur on floating docks after the passenger get off of the tenders.

Some cruise lines try and deny liability for tender accidents, claiming that it is the responsibility of the tender companies or the local port facility.  But there is a clear legal obligation of the cruise line in these type of situations.  Indeed, there are cases indicating that cruise line have a duty of exercising a "high degree of care" for their passengers in safely transporting passenger to and from the cruise ships.  

Ms. Reimer (who was represented by another lawyer in Miami) ended up settling her case for $125,000.  The unusual thing about her case was that Carnival agreed to give her a 2 for 1 cruise certificate as a part of the settlement deal.  It is our experience that the last thing an injured passenger wants is to cruise again.  The cruise line often views the passenger as a liability and doesn't want them back as a customer in the future.  We have even handled cases where the cruise line insists that the passenger agree to never sail with them as a condition of the settlement.

The other unusual thing about this settlement is that there was no confidentiality provision.  (Even the amount of the settlement was disclosed).  So the video below was aired on the local CBS affiliate in Miami, CBS News 4:     

 

 

 

Photo credit:   beans-around-the-world.com

Video credit:  CBS News 4 (Miami)

Lawsuits Filed In Duck Boat Cruise Disaster

Duck Boat Accident - Delaware River Lawsuits have been filed following the sinking of a "Duck Boat" cruise vessel on Delaware River in Philadelphia in July.

On July 7, a 250 foot barge pushed by a tugboat ran over and sank a disabled "Ride the Ducks" amphibious tour boat with 35 passengers and 2 crew members aboard. 

The tugboat either did not hear or ignored multiple warnings that the tour boar was disabled in the river.  

The majority of the passengers survived and 10 were injured.  But 2 student tourists from Hungary, Dora Schwendtner (age 16) and Szabolcs Prem (age 20), drowned.  

"'Duck Boats" are World War II vintage amphibious personnel vessels, officially called "DUKWs," which have been converted for tourist excursions.  In 1999, the Miss Majestic "duck boat" sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas and 13 passengers drowned.

Read the NTSB's preliminary report on the accident 

This is the type of accident where the insurance companies for the tug and tour boat owners and operators should admit liability and pay reasonable compensation to the families of the two dead Hungarian tourists. 

 

Boat Duck Collision - Philadelphia - Delaware River

 

Photo credit:   WPVI / Philadelphia Police (via CNN)

9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Classic International Cruises - Funchal cruise ship - tour bus accidentA excursion bus carrying cruise passengers plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco (Castillejos) today and killed nine Portuguese tourists. 14 cruise passengers were injured. 

44 passengers were aboard the bus when it crashed during foggy and rainy weather.  Some news sources are indicating the bus driver may have been speeding. 

AFP reports that the passengers were from the Funchal cruise ship which had docked in Ceuta with 400 passengers. 

The Funchal is marketed by Classic International Cruises and operated by Arcalia Shipping Company Ltd, of Cyprus.  

There have been a number of bus accidents causing injury and death to cruise passengers. Earlier this this year, a tour bus carrying passengers from a Princess Cruises ship crashed in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

 

Photo credit:    AFP

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents

In the last several months, many cruise passengers contacted our office who have been seriously injured on the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Some passenger are injured when they fall.  Others are injured after they fall and then the water current drives them over the ridge into the back wall breaking their ankles.  

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean - Accidents - Injuries - Cruise The injuries are extremely serious.  All passengers required surgery and were left with permanent injuries.

The complaints which we hear from the passengers are all the same -  the cruise line "instructors" seemed to be ill-trained or in a rush, and the instructions given to the guests were incomplete.  Without exception once the accident occurred, the crew members at the FlowRider did not know what to do.  The injured passengers often find themselves being put off in the next port on a Caribbean island with inadequate medical treatment.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line which has FlowRiders.  That's because the other cruise line do not want to subject their guests to such serious injuries and then face the legal liability of having one of these dangerous activities on their cruise ships.    

Royal Caribbean has FlowRiders on the Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas.  The cruise line describes the FlowRiders innocently enough on its website

"How It Works - The FlowRider sends a thin sheet of water up a sloped and (thankfully) cushioned platform to create a wavelike flow of water. So it's perfect for beginning, intermediate and advanced surfers . . . "

Royal Caribbean faces liability for: inadequate instructions to passengers; failure to maintain and operate the FlowRider consistent with manufacture instructions and industry standards; failure to FlowRider Wipeout - Royal Caribbean Flow Rider Injury accurately disclose and effectively warn passengers of prior accidents, injuries, and deaths aboard the FlowRider; and failing to respond appropriately to the accidents.

The cruise line forces the passengers to sign "Onboard Activities Waivers."  The cruise line tries to argue that these 'waivers" strip the passengers of their rights whenever they are injured while flowboarding, zip lining, rock climbing, or ice skating. 

We believe these waivers are invalid.  They violate U.S. Federal law which prohibits shipping companies and cruise lines avoiding or limiting liability for injuries and deaths on the high seas.

Royal Caribbean knows that hundreds of passengers a year will be injured on the FlowRiders on their cruise ships,  They have installed large flat-screen tvs in the adjacent "Wipeout Bar" for the other passengers to watch the fun.  But if you are seriously injured, check with a maritime lawyer before you take the cruise line's word that their so-called "waivers' are valid.   

 

Don't forget to watch the video below - of Royal Caribbean FlowRider wipeouts - sung to "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool:  

 

 

December 21, 2011 Update:  FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

 

Credits:

Photo 1           randmunn1 Fkickr 

Photo 2          carolsummer66 photobucket 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420

Miami Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

This weekend while cleaning out a file cabinet, I ran across an article published by the Miami Herald entitled "Lawyers Turn Cruise Lawsuits Into Industry." The article stated that between 2001 and 2006, over 2,000 lawsuits were filed against the Miami based cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

Cruise Ship Lawyer - Miami - Accident - InjuryThe article mentioned that I was one of the "big three" leading adversaries of cruise lines. This was a nice compliment, I suppose, coming from a newspaper like the Miami Herald which is a big supporter of the cruise industry.

The article discussed lawsuits filed on behalf of passengers and crew members against cruise lines:

"The $25 billion-a-year cruising industry has faced more lawsuits than it cares to count over the past few decades -- some 2,100 in South Florida alone since 2001.

Many are filed by a small group of lawyers -- about 15 locally -- who specialize in representing injured cruise passengers and crew members and make up a thriving cottage industry in South Florida.

But the cruise lines aren't exactly sitting back -- far from it. They have teams of lawyers to fight or settle the suits, and they've quietly begun putting into place measures to make it more difficult to sue them."

"Prime Location For Passenger Claims"

One of the obstacles cruise lines use is the requirement that lawsuits by passengers must be filed here in South Florida.  Cruise lines have included forum selection clauses in the passenger tickets requiring the passenger to sue here in Miami rather than in their home town. The Miami Herald articles states:

Cruise Lawyer - Miami Florida - Accident - Injury - Cruise Ship"For lawyers interested in suing cruise lines, South Florida is the place to be.

If you want to do this kind of work, you pretty much have to do it in Miami," said Martin Davies, a maritime law professor at Tulane University.

Davies said plaintiffs' lawyers occasionally try to sue somewhere else, but they almost always fail. The perception is that the cruise lines are getting a hometown advantage. Davies disputes that, arguing that it makes sense for cruise lines to be able to limit the number of places where passengers can sue. "Their passengers come from all over the world," he said.

The cruise lines won't say how much money they spend on lawsuits, but most cases do get settled, with payouts ranging from a couple thousand dollars to more than $1 million."

 

For additional information about passenger lawsuits against cruise lines here in Miami, we suggest reading some of our other articles: 

Cruise Ship Accidents - Miami Maritime Lawyer

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

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

Carnival Ecstasy Listing Update: Smooth Sailing to Chaos & Confusion

We have been inundated with emails and calls from passengers who were injured or traumatized during the "listing incident" involving the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship on April 21, 2010. 

We have received over 30 comments alone on our article "Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?"  Take a moment and read about the terror these families experienced.

Carnival Ecstasy - Cruise Ship - Listing - Buoy - Smooth Sailing?The comments fall into two categories - (1) passengers who observed or believed that a buoy, sand bar, shoal or island was involved which the cruise ship tried to avoid; or (2) skeptical readers who claim that there are no sand bars, shoals or islands in the Gulf of Mexico (these people usually were not on the cruise).

One thing that everyone who who was on the cruise has confirmed - the water in the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the incident was absolutely calm.  So calm that you could water ski or skip a rock across the water.  Ironically, the cruise was advertised as "Smooth Sailing" by swing dance instructor "Big Smooth" who was apparently teaching swing dance during the five day cruise (photograph above).  

Most passengers who have contacted us believe that Carnival has not told the truth.  They tell us that the cruise line lacks honesty by either under-reporting the number of injuries, or claiming that a loose buoy could not be detected by radar, or by claiming that the ship listed only 12 degrees, or by denying that the cruise ship may have been trying to avoid a sand bar or island in its path.

Several passengers have emailed us photographs of the TV monitors which show that the Ecstasy was passing or had just passed two islands at the time of the listing (photograph below).  Photographs and video of this type were take by several passengers of the TVs on the ships.

Did the cruise ship almost run into a shoal or small island?  I don't know.  The water was deep at this location in the Gulf of Mexico.  But what about the "islands" on the TV?   It is less than clear what was going on.  We are not going to know the truth until the U.S. Guard finishes its investigation.

But assuming that Carnival is right (which I am reluctant to admit), and the Ecstasy was just trying to avoid a buoy, how on earth could the vessel's officers not have detected the buoy on the cruise ship's radar?  Even small power-boats with modest radar systems can easily pick up a buoy like this many miles away.  There is no possible excuse for a large cruise ship with sophisticated radar systems not to have detected the buoy - whether it was marking a hazard or was adrift as Carnival claims. 

Probably the Master was not on duty, and the officers on duty (assuming someone was on duty) were asleep at the helm.  

There is something very fishy with Carnival's story . . .  it stinks. 

Carnival's passengers paid several thousands of dollars for this cruise, only to go from smooth sailing to chaos, panic and confusion. 

These nice people are not as stupid as Carnival thinks. 

They deserve straight talk and a truthful explanation regarding what happened.    

Carnival Ecstasy - Listing - Buoy - Islands? - Chaos

 

Credits:

Carnival Ecstasy TV navigational photo                Cory Forister

YouTube Video of Carnival Ecstasy Listing - "The Rest of the Story"

The video below is from a passenger who was on Carnival's Ecstasy with his family when the cruise ship listed in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010. "Mattyhiway" writes:

The Ecstasy made a sharp turn at sea to avoid a wayward buoy.  The ship listed to port hard causing dozens of injuries and traumatizing many more. What the news showed was only part of the story, this is the REST of the story told from passengers who survived this incident.  

 

 

 

We have commented on this incident in an article "Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?"   If you were on this cruise, click on the link and leave a comment!

See our updated story: Carnival Mocks Injured and Traumatized Cruise Passenger Complaints As "Completely Ridiculous"

 

Credits:    Mattyhiway's YouTube Channel

Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?

We have written a couple of articles about the recent incident when Carnival's Ecstasy cruise ship heavily listed in the Gulf of Mexico, injuring 60 passengers and frightening many hundreds more. 

Carnival Ecstasy - Listing - Bouy?  -  Or Sand Bar?We received a message from one of the passengers on the cruise, suggesting that the Carnival cruise ship was about to hit a sand bar which was marked by a buoy.  And the cruise line is covering up the true circumstances of the incident.  Here is the message:   

"I was on that cruise. There was a buoy, but the buoy was there marking a sand bar that we almost ran aground on!! The land mass was on the radar. You can see the radar, direction and course of the ship on one of the channels in each cabins TV. The ship made a NINETY DEGREE TURN!! You dont do that to avoid a buoy! I was also told by a crew member that someone on the bridge was getting fired over the mistake. The cruise line is covering its butt!!"

But Carnival's PR person Jennifer de la Cruz told CNN "the ship listed 12 degrees to the right to avoid hitting a large, adrift buoy . . ." 

Who is telling the truth?  There are also some comments on Cruise Critic debating this.  One reader posted this comment: 

"Hmmm.. Not buying the official story. I was on the ship, and minutes before the sharp turn we were near a TV in the Rolls Royce cafe where they show the position of the ship on a map, speed, etc.  We noticed the ship was heading directly towards 2 very small (submerged?) islands on the map . . . and no one on board is buying this "phantom buoy" story . . .   

Carnival Ecstasy - Buoy? - Accident - List 

But another Cruise Critic reader suggested that the cruise ship was in water several thousands of feet deep.

So what really happened? 

Was there really a loose buoy floating around? Or was the buoy marking a navigational hazard?  Are there really sand bars (or reefs) in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, 200 miles off of the coast of Louisiana?

What are the exact coordinates of the incident?

The U.S. Coast Guard will be investigating, but it will take some time to get to the bottom of the incident.  Are there other passengers who know what really happened? 

Does anyone have a photo of the phantom buoy?

Let us hear from you in the comment section below . . .   

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Ship - Empty Pool Following List - Buoy?

 

There are many videos on the internet regarding the listing incident.  The video below is raw video from a reporter with the Galveston County Daily:   

 

 

Be sure to read our updated article: Carnival Ecstasy Listing Update: Smooth Sailing to Chaos & Confusion and Carnival Mocks Injured and Traumatized Cruise Passenger Complaints As "Completely Ridiculous"

 

Photograph credits:

Ecstasy cruise ship        Carlos Javier Sanchez, Bloomberg News / Getty Images (via AOL News)

Injured passenger and empty pool        Brandy and Ashley Vickery (via ABC13 "Sixty Passengers Hurt on Galveston-Based Cruise Ship") 

Video interview of passengers  Galveston County Daily

Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Back To Sea After 60 Passengers Injured

The Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy returned to sea following an incident where the ship listed heavily to avoid hitting a partially submerged buoy. 

Although Carnival initially downplayed the incident, it turns out that 60 passengers reported to the ship infirmary for injuries.

The video is from Houston News - ABC13.com

April 23, 2010 UPDATE:  Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?

 

Princess Cruises Passenger Killed In ATV Accident In Aruba

The Diario newspaper in Aruba reports on a passenger from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship who died in an accident ashore in Aruba.

The unidentified passenger rented a four wheel ATV (all terrain vehicle) and collided with what the newspaper reports is a Dodge Ram pickup truck.  

ATV Accident - Aruba - Caribbean Princess Cruise ShipThe Cruise Critic website includes several comments by passengers on the cruise who saw the aftermath of the accident.

Many Cruise Critic readers commented on dangers ashore in port of call when passengers rent mopeds and ATV's and encounter different road conditions and traffic on the "other side of the road."  

The driver of the ATV was apparently not wearing a helmet.  The comments to the story seem to suggest that the ATV was rented privately, and not as part of an excursion sold by the cruise line.

Companies which rent ATV's and mopeds should require that all drivers wear helmets, and should not rent the vehicles unless the company provides a helmet to the driver.  It is unknown whether Aruba requires helmets to be warn in these situations.    

April 22, 2010 Update:

The cruise passengers involved in the accident are Frederich Norman, age 41, who was killed, and his wife Christine Norman, age 37, who was injured, according to the LondonFree Press in Canada. There is a suggestion that the pickup truck may have swerved into an oncoming lane, causing the collision with the Normans' ATV.  There is also mention of drugs being found in the truck.  These accounts appear to be based on the Diario newspaper in Aruba.

Princess Cruises PR - Julie Benson - Stringent Excursion Safety RulesThe London Free Press points to the incident as raising the issue of the questionable safety of many excursions cruise passengers may choose during their cruises. 

Princess Cruises PR person, Julie Benson (photograph right), is quoted as stating that the ATV rental was not one sanctioned by Princess Cruises. Ms. Benson claims that Princess Cruises requires a "stringent set of rules and safety measures" before recommending local companies to its cruise passengers.

In February a Princess Cruises passenger was killed and other passengers were injured when a cruise excursion bus with no seat belts, operated by a driver named "Crash Dummy" with a record which included criminal conduct and reckless driving, crashed while descending a steep hill in Tortola. 

It will be interesting to see exactly what Princess Cruises' "stringent" excursion safety rules look like.  

 

 

Credits:    

Photograph of ATV        Diario Online Newspaper

Photograph of Princess PR            Julie Benson Twitter 

 

"Crash Dummy" Released From Jail - Who Paid The Bail?

BVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the cruise tour bus involved in the excursion accident in Tortola, was released from prison "after someone successfully posted bail for him."

Earlier last month, Mr. Allen - also known as "Crash Dummy" - was placed on $60,000 bail where he had to pay $25,000 in cash and sign a $35,000 surety.  His lawyer had informed the Court that Mr. Allen did not have the money to make bail.

The question arises who paid the bail?  Was the money gathered by friends or family members?  Or did  anyone acting on behalf of the excursion company or cruise line come up with the money behind the scenes?    

The newspaper reports that Mr. Allen will return to Court on April 21st for another hearing.  His trial on charges for reckless driving leading to the death of a Princess Cruises passenger and multiple injuries to other passengers will be scheduled later this year.

We have written many articles about this case

Do you have information regarding the source of the bail money?  Please contact us. 

Cruise Excursion Bus Driver Unable To Make Bail - Remains Jailed

Roland AllenBVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the bus carrying Princess Cruises passengers on an excursion into Tortola, cannot make the $60.000 bail and will remain imprisoned.

The article shows a photograph of Mr. Allen, nicknamed "Crash Dummy," wearing a red sport shirt, waving with his mouth open. It is not the type of photo I would want if I were a criminal defense lawyer and my client stood accused of causing death by reckless driving.  He looks like a jokester.

The prosecutors are still preparing the case for trial. The article mentions that the prosecutors are  awaiting statements from U.S. witnesses. The Magistrate scheduled another hearing for April 21st.  

Mr. Allen's lawyer requested a modification of the bail.  The Magistrate said no.  So "Crash Dummy" remains in jail.

We have written many articles on this sad case,

 

Credits:

Photograph                    BVI Platinum News

Princess Cruises Excursion Accident - Sad Sight Remains In Tortola

A reader sent us a link to the photograph below which, if you have been following our blog for the past month, you should recognize is the site of the tragic cruise excursion bus accident in Tortola in February.  One young man died and several other passengers from a Princess Cruises cruise ship were injured as the bus sped down "Windy Hill" road and crashed into the side of the hill before flipping over in the road.

Tortola Cruise Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesAlthough the accident occurred almost one month ago, rocks and debris remain on the road.  In a post entitled "Not My Job Mon," several readers of Travel Talk Online have commented on the embarrassment of the government of Tortola being unable to clean up the accident site over the past many weeks. 

One reader commented: "Maybe the "Crash Dummy" could clean it up in his orange jump suit!! That is crazy!!"

You will recall that "Crash Dummy" is the cruise excursion bus driver, Roland Allen, who is in jail awaiting trial for dangerous driving.  We have covered Mr. Allen's driving record and criminal record in previous blogs.  

It is unacceptable that a cruise line like Princess Cruises would use an old bus driven by a known reckless driver with a criminal record. 

Tortola's tourist board convened press conferences following the deadly bus crash and promised to look into this accident.  They vowed to improve the safety of the taxis and buses carrying cruise passengers and other tourists. 

Is this just happy talk to appease the cruise lines? 

Why hasn't the tourist board erected a memorial on the side of the road to remember the young man who died?   Why hasn't Tortola installed "caution" or "slow down" signs on the hill to remind other drivers to be careful?

Or at least pushed the rocks off the road to avoid other accidents?     

 

Credits:

Photograph     Travel Talk Online 

Tortola Tourist Board - Let Cruise Excursion Bus Story "Die Naturally"

BVI News and BVI Platinum News continue their excellent coverage of the tragic and deadly crash of the  Princess Cruises' excursion bus in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) with an article entitled "It could Have Been Worse."

PR Nightmare

The BVI Tourist Board is trying to manage the public relations nightmare of the death and multiple injuries of U.S. cruise tourists on a bus with no seat belts being driven by a bus driver with an arrest history and prior conviction record for reckless driving nicknamed "Crash Dummy."

The Director of the BVI tourist Board, Ms. Hadassah Ward (photograph below, left), is struggling with crisis management efforts following this debacle.  Ms. Ward scheduled a press conference yesterday where she announced that "it could have been worse."

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesI'm not sure I understand exactly how it "could have been worse."

A young man died needlessly on a cruise excursion, purchased by his loving parents for his birthday, because of the obvious negligence of the excursion company and cruise line which saw fit to associate itself with a substandard tour company which hired a known reckless driver nicknamed "Crash Dummy" operating a bus not suited for mountainous terrain.

Ms. Ward should have said "this should have never happened."

Instead we see Ms. Ward and her "Tourist Board" worrying about the image of her island and fretting about the press and the blogs covering the tragic story.

Muzzle the Press?

Ms. Ward announced that "one of the Board’s role is to monitor the media  . . .  to ensure accurate information is being disseminated.  Ms. Ward  also said she would monitor the "posted pictures of the accident . . . because it will be there for the next 10 to 20 years . . . "

Mr Ward is quoted as saying: "everyone is reading the blogs and newspapers… so we don’t want the information to be misconstrued where people will be affected in terms of liability . . . we need to understand that the blogs are read internationally."

She also noted that "good attitude from the Tourist Board officials" quelled any videos and photographs from being circulated online by the 16 tourists who were involved in the accident.

Ms. Ward concluded her remarks by stating "I am a great believer in letting the story die naturally . . ." 

This is the essence of tourist boards and cruise line PR people - they just want the story to go away.

Cruise Excursion - Princess Cruises - TortolaWe reported in a prior blog that this is not the first cruise bus excursion to run off the road and injure cruise passengers in Tortola - "Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident."  Nothing was done after that disaster. 

History is repeating itself.  

Let's Be Happy & Forget about It

So we have the Tortola Tourist Board trying to puzzle the press and control the images of the tragedy for PR purposes. 

And the island and cruise line people behind the scenes just want the story to die naturally . . . 

And then what? 

Another season of substandard buses, with no seat belts, with reckless drivers . . . and another round of unsuspecting cruise passengers taking their families on the next bus driven by a "Crash Dummy"   . . .  

Comments From Tortola:

Here are some of the comments to the BVI News story that the Tortola Tourist Board is concerned with:

An accident waiting to happen is no accident. Hiring a driver with driving infractions and one of which was reckless driving to operate your tour bus is irresponsible and negligent. The owner of the tour bus too, is guilty of negligence which contributed to this vehicular homicide. Just because these tourists were given a heap of hush money as incentives not to file a lawsuit (we hope) and to keep things quiet, doesn't mean that TB should be issuing insensitive words " It could have been worse" because frankly, it could not have been worse . .

Tortola - Cruise Bus - Crash Dummy - Princess CruisesCould have been worse?? Oh it's just one life....I mean come on. You're talking about insurance and all that...I mean if we have people operating and transporting persons and they have no license to drive or no insurance to operate heir vehicles then we have a very serious flaw in the system! Don't give me that could have been worse story. With as much violations this guy should he even be driving much less responsible for transporting this many people? These are peoples lives we're talking about! 

License or no license, hiring a driver with a record of driving infractions including reckless driving, whose nickname is Crash Dummy should be good reason to revoke his license to operate a tour bus. Lackadaisical, slackness, don't care with attitude are words to describe the way business is conducted in this place from top to bottom.

March 11, 2010 Update:

Two newspaper stories from Tortola today address the efforts of the Tourist Board to assist the parents of the deceased cruise passenger, Mr. Rumphrey.  The BVI News has an article "BVITB Reports on its Efforts to Assist Family of Tourist Killed in Road Accident."  The BVIU Beacon also reports on the Tourist Board's efforts to assist the affected passengers in an article "BVITB Aids Family of Man Killed in Wreck."  Ms. Ward is quoted saying: "Yes, bad things do happen in paradise, but when they do happen, you have a support group.”

 

Credits:

Photograph of Ms. Ward         BVI News

Photographs of bus                   BVI Platinum News    

 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy?

A story in the BVI Platinum's newspaper indicates that the cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen, nick-named "Crash Dummy," had been convicted of driving offenses - including reckless driving - before the ill-fated Princess Cruises excursion bus crash. 

We suspected this, as we raised this issue in a prior article "How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?"

Compelling Record of Bad Driving?

In an article " Allen's License Suspended, Independent Mechanic to Examine Bus," the newspaper reveals an exchange between the bus driver's lawyer and the criminal Magistrate presiding over the matter. The lawyer for Mr. Allen pleaded the Magistrate not to suspend Mr. Allen's license.  In response, the Magistrate:

 ". . . lamented that the court was given a conviction sheet of Allen and most of the offences are road traffic offences with one being reckless driving. 'The allegations are compelling' she stated."

The newspaper also reports on a curious plea by Mr. Allen's lawyer who "told the court that tour operator is his only means of income and suspending it will deprive Allen of his livelihood."  This Tropical Forest Hike & Beach - Princess Cruises - Cancelledargument ignored the fact that the cruise line had already suspended the tour in question, the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" excursion, as previously reported in USA Today.  The Princess Cruises' website states: Tropical Forest Hike & Beach***Cancelled***

The Magistrate ruled that given Mr. Allen's previous convictions, "it is not wise to allow him to return behind the wheels." 

Was It Wise to Permit "Crash Dummy" Behind the Wheel In The First Place?

Cruise lines have certain legal duties to their passengers.  The cruise line must conduct an investigation into the safety procedures of the tour company and audit the tour's safety record.  This includes not only inspecting the excursion company's buses but inspecting the driving records of the tour company's drivers.  Cruise lines also have a duty to warn passengers of dangers which are known, or should be known, to the cruise line.

Princess Cruises advertises the excursion bus going to the "highest peak in the Virgin Islands."

Why did the cruise line permit a driver - known in the community of Tortola as "Crash Dummy" and reportedly convicted of reckless driving - take cruise passengers through this steep mountainous terrain?  Why didn't the cruise line warn its passengers of these dangers before charging them $59 a piece for the excursion?

 

Credits:

Tropical Forest Hike and Beach         Princess Cruises

Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

When cruise passengers are injured during cruises and require legal representation, the chances are that they will require a lawyer in South Florida.  Most cruise lines are based in either Miami or Fort Lauderdale.  These cruise lines include "forum selection" clauses in the passenger tickets which require that the passenger's lawsuit must be filed in Florida.  

So if the accident occurs on a cruise ship operated by Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, or Silversea cruise line, the passenger will have to find a lawyer here in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.  This is true regardless of where the passengers live,  Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer - Miami Florida where they boarded the cruise ship, where the cruise ship is going, or where the accident occurs.  

Many passengers searching for a lawyer on Google or Yahoo run across listings for a "cruise ship accident lawyer" or "cruise ship injury attorney."  There are many lawyers who list themselves as "cruise ship lawyers" but they actually have no education, training, or experience handling maritime cases in general or cruise line cases in particular.

Our firm handles cases only against cruise lines.  We know how the cruise lines defend cases involving injured passengers and crewmembers.  When considering hiring a lawyer to represent you or your family, ask the lawyer some basic questions (our answers follow):

Did you obtain an education in maritime law?  Yes.  I studied maritime law courses starting in 1980 from the best law school in the U.S. with a maritime law curriculum.  Tulane Law School - Admiralty and Maritime Law

Are you a member of any maritime law societies?  Yes.  I am a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (since 1984), the Admiralty Law Section of the American Association for Justice, Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association, and Southeast Admiralty Law Institute.

Have you lectured maritime law students?  Yes.  Last week I was invited to speak before the Maritime Law Society of Stetson Law School, the oldest law school in Florida.  Cruise Law Visits Stetson College of Law to Discuss Crime on Cruise Ships

Have you handled cases against cruise lines before, and how many?  Yes.  Over 500, in the last 10 years alone.  We routinely handle cases against Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney (Magical Cruise Company), Holland American Line, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, and Silversea.

Have you or your clients appeared before U.S. Congress regarding issues of cruise ship safety?  Yes.  We have attended five Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. with six clients regarding issues of cruise line safety issues.   

Jim Walker - James Walker - Cruise Lawyer - Cruise Accident LawDo you handle only maritime cases?  Yes.  We handle only maritime cases involving accidents and injuries on cruise ships.  We have handled high profile cases involving cruise ship fires, collisions, and sinkings.  

The cases typically involve a cruise passenger slipping and breaking an ankle, knee, or hip on the cruise ship, an injury during a shore excursion, a passenger who is sexually assaulted during the cruise, or a crewmember who is injured during work.  Most cases where passengers and crewmembers are injured also involve issues of delayed or inappropriate medical treatment.  

Have you or your clients been featured in newspapers, documentaries, or on television news programs?  Yes.  Over 100 newspaper articles, law journals, and television programs have featured our firm and/or our cruise passenger clients.  

ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, Larry King Live, A & E Investigative Reports, Hannity & Colmes, Greta Van Sustern, Nancy Grace, Inside Edition, Julie Banderas, Big Story Weekend, CourtTV, Catherine Crier, Montel Williams, Joe Scarborough, Rita Cosby, Mike & Juliet, Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Bloom, Dan Abrams, UK’s BBC-Radio 4, Heartland w/John Kasich, E!  Entertainment, TruTV, Canada’s CATV-5, Good Morning America, TIME Magazine, National Law Journal, RADAR Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly USA, Miami Herald, American Law Media, Tradewinds, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel, Miami Business Review, LA Times, NY Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Florida Today, Daytona Beach Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, Greenwich Times, Greenwich Citizen, Greenwich Post, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, CruiseCritic, and the Associated Press have all covered our cruise line cases and our client's causes. 

Who are your clients?  Cruise passengers and crewmembers.  Most of our passenger clients are former cruise fanatics.  After being involved in an accident, they feel mistreated or neglected by the cruise staff and are often ignored once they return home from the cruise.  Most cases are not high profile cases, but simply involve an accident and questionable medical treatment on the cruise ship or in the port of call.  

Our cruise passenger clients come literally from all fifty states in the U.S.  Our crew clients contact us from around the world. 

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?

In an article entitled "Taxi Driver Granted $60,000 Bail - License Suspended," BVI News in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) reports that the driver of the Princess Cruises excursion bus arrested for reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving has been offered bail in the amount $60,000.  The Magistrate set bail of $25,000 cash and a $35,000 surety.

BVI citizen Roland Allen was arrested following the crash of a bus carrying cruise passengers from a Princess Cruise ship on an excursion into Tortola. The accident occurred as the cruise excursion bus was descending a very steep road called "Windy Hill Road." 

Roland Allen - Crash Dummy - Tortola - Princess CruisesThe Magistrate suspended Mr. Allen's license, pending the outcome of his trial regarding the death of cruise passenger Aaron Rumphrey who died in the crash.  

The BVI News reports that Mr. Allen's next court appearance is March 25, 2010.

"Crash Dummy" Arrested For Theft?

BVI News previously reported that the excursion bus driver is known as "Crash Dummy," a nick-name Mr. Allen apparently obtained before the fatal cruise excursion bus accident.

An online "Police Blotter" indicates that "Roland Allen of Baughers Bay" was arrested for theft in July of last year.  There are no details online available to explain the nature of the alleged theft, or how the charges were resolved. 

The comments to the online reports refer to Mr. Allen as "Crash Dummy," suggesting that Mr. Allen's reputation as a "crash dummy" existed before the terrible cruise line excursion accident. 

How Did "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name?

The question remains how and when Mr. Roland earned the unenviable label of being a "crash  dummy?"  Has the cruise excursion driver been involved in other accidents?

A clue may be found in the comments of a reader of the BVI News:

"When you hire a driver that you know (or should know) is a reckless driver, he has been involved with the law several times because of his driving habits and you know that around town his name is "Crash Dummy", and you have not informed unsuspecting customers by placing a sign on the bus "Ride at your own Risk, Dangerous Driver" then you are as guilty and responsible for the outcome and should be in Balsum and your company shut down immediately. You, the driver and the BVI Government share the responsibility for this travesty and the lawsuits will be piling up, no doubt."

Why Did Princess Cruises Permit Cruise Passengers To Be Driven By "Crash Dummy?"

It is an understatement to say that it is reckless for the cruise line to herd unsuspecting cruise tourists into a bus without seat belts to be driven over a steep hill by a driver called "Crash Dummy" with a police record and apparently a history of driving violations.

Mr. Allen's driving record and police history will become a focus of investigators.  We will be discussing this outrageous situation created by Princess Cruises in our next blogs.

A Hero or Villian? 

Another newspaper in BVI, the BVI Beacan, reports that the prosecutors in Tortola intend to prove that Mr. Roland was driving recklessly.  The newspaper quotes the prosecutor saying: 

“The vehicle started to accelerate and despite efforts, the driver was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop . . .  We are claiming that his driving was reckless because he was going at a speed at which he was unable to control the vehicle . . . a loud screeching was heard from the brakes . . .  [Mr. Allen] ought to have known” about any problems with the excursion bus.

However, Mr. Allen's defense lawyer argued to the Court that when his client "started down the hill, he put the bus into second gear but realised there were no brakes. He tried pumping the brakes but the vehicle sped down the hill, not because of Mr. Allen’s actions, but because it was heavy with the tourists’ weight."

“He had no alternative but to put the bus in those ruins. If he’d done anything else he would have gone off the hill. He should be commended.”

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

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

 

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 
 

20 Paramedics Respond to Cruise Ship Injuries Aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

The Daily Breeze newspaper reports that three ambulances and about 20 paramedics and rescue personnel were sent to a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Port of Los Angeles yesterday to treat three passengers with serious injuries and medical complications.  This is an unusual story, given the large number of emergency response personnel involved.

Mariner of the SeasThe injuries occurred aboard the Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, which arrived back in port yesterday. 

One passenger was a pregnant woman suffering possible complications and two passengers who had slipped and fallen on the ship. 

Two of the passengers were in the ship's infirmary when Los Angeles fire paramedics arrived. The other was in a state room on board. The paramedics transported the passengers to San Pedro Peninsula Hospital. 

A spokesperson described the injuries as "serious." While the spokesperson would not say what caused the injuries, he said they were unrelated.

 

Photo credit     Jane Engle / LA Times

Cruise Law Services for Passengers and Crew Members

Cruise ship accidents, injuries, crimes, disappearances, fires, and collisions on the high seas involve issues of maritime law.  Jim Walker graduated from law school in 1983 and has been handling maritime law cases for the past thirty-one years. He handles a wide variety of cases from serious injuries to the highest profile sexual assault and cruise crime cases.

Cruise Passenger Injuries and Accidents - Carnival - Royal Caribbean - Jim focuses his maritime law practice on representing cruise passengers and crew members in cases against cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America Line, Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line among others. 

The firm handles cases on a "contingency" basis - meaning that you do not send us a retainer and we do not bill you for our fees or expenses. 

We advance all costs and are reimbursed for our time and costs only if we are successful in reaching a settlement or we win the case for you. 

PASSENGER CASES:

Jim's firm represents passengers throughout the United States, Canada, England and Europe.  95% of his U.S. clients live outside of Florida, from New York to California.  

Jim handles the following types of cases: 

  • Slip and fall accidents on wet decks, buffet floors, and slippery pool decks. 
  • Sexual assaults on cruise ships, by crew members or other passengers.
  • Physical assaults and battery, often due to intoxicated passengers.
  • Overboard passengers and “disappearances” at sea.
  • Injuries during shore excursions.
  • Injuries and deaths on tour excursion vehicles and open "safari" buses.  
  • Injuries while boarding tenders to and from the cruise ships.
  • Cruise ship catastrophes - fires, sinkings and collisions.
  • Injuries and deaths arising from terrorist and pirate attacks.

CREW MEMBERS CASES

Jim has handled many hundreds of cases against cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Oceania, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.  The types of cases include:  

  • Delayed and improper medical care on the cruise ship.
  • Failure to provide medical treatment ashore.
  • Jim Walker - Cruise Ship Law - Maritime Law MiamiMedical negligence by doctors hired by the cruise lines in foreign countries
  • Failure to pay wages and living expenses in a timely manner.
  • Abandoning the crew member in their home country after becoming injured or ill.
  • Neck, shoulder and back injuries to waiters due to lifting heavy trays.
  • Slip and falls in the galley.
  • Injuries to stateroom attendants.
  • Accidents handling luggage during embarkation day.
  • Sexual harassment and sexual assault.     

Jim is handling cases of crew members from countries like Jamaica, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Serbia, Croatia, India, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

With recent widespread incidents of cruise ship fires, collisions and sinkings, the world-wide media has called upon Jim for legal commentary and analysis.  In 2013 alone, Jim has appeared in over 150 television, cable news, radio, documentary, and newspaper articles and programs