2014: Record Breaking Year for Cruise Law News

In 2014, 1,718,131 people read 6,104,186 people pages of Cruise Law News.  

Our busiest day was April 7, 2014 when over 110,000 visitors read our article when we were the first to report on the murder of a NCL crew member in Roatan, Honduras near the port. 

Crime in ports of call was a hot topic for 2014.  Our article Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World was re-tweeted, liked or shared over 2,800 times.  We named Nassau, Bahamas as the most dangerous port in the world and said that Nassau was "one shot away" from losing the cruise industry, which placed us on television in the Bahamas and on the front cover of the Nassau Jim Walker Cruise Lawyer MiamiGuardian.

We broke a number of stories that the cruise industry would prefer that you didn't know.  We published videos of MSC crew members dumping plastic garbage bags in a marine sanctuary in Brazil.  A number of news organizations in the U.K., Switzerland, and Australia & New Zealand republished them around the world. 

We appeared in over 100 newspapers articles and on CNN, ABC and other television and radio programs.  Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know," so don't expect to see glossy photos of idyllic cruise vacations here.

The problem of passengers and crew members disappearing on the high seas continued throughout 2014. ABC News featured us in an investigation why the cruise lines are refusing to install man overboard systems in compliance with the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act. A few cruise lines, like Holland America Line (HAL), claim that they are testing man-overboard technology but just last week a crew member disappeared from the HAL Ryndam

The premiere legal blog in the world, Above the Law, included us as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014." Lexblog picked us as the Blog of the Year and selected us as one of the top two lawyer "citizen journalists."

I was most pleased that Cruise Law News came in as number six (and the only blog written by a lawyer) out of the top twenty national cruise blogs selected by USA Today, in a national poll of cruise fans. 

Our Facebook page has over 135,000 followers, mostly crew members as well as cruise passengers and travel agents who wish to remain anonymous. We receive many thousand of comments a month. We routinely receive real-time insights into problems on cruise ships from passengers and the crew.

Thanks for reading us in 2014.  And many thanks to the passengers and crew members who sent us tips, info and videos from the high seas.

 

If you have a comment to share, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Cruise Law News Enjoys Record Month in April

Last month, 247,433 people read 843,370 pages of Cruise Law News (per Google Analytics). That's a record month for us.

If our readership continues to grow, as it has done over the years, we are on track to having 3,000,000 people reading over 10,000,000 pages of our blog a year.

Our blog is currently the number three most popular law blog in the U.S. (via Alexa) and the number one Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirusmost popular law blog in the U.S. written by a practicing lawyer (again via Alexa).

The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  If you want idyllic images of perfect cruise ship vacations to tropical paradises, stick to the travel publications and cruise fan blogs. We offer a glimpse into the world of cruising that the cruise executives prefer you not know.

In the last year, we broke stories involving MSC Cruises dumping garbage bags at sea, Silvesea Cruises hiding carts of food from U.S. health inspectors, and Carnival scrapping its crew retirement program.  We provide an inside look at norovirus outbreaks that the cruise lines always blame on the passengers. This past week, our blog was featured in newspapers and on television in the Bahamas regarding the issue of crime against cruise passengers.

Thank you for reading our blog. Take a moment and subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed or sending us your e-mail address in the box to the lower left.

You can also follow the latest developments in the intersecting worlds of cruise ships and the practice of law on our Facebook page.

Thanks!

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

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

 

Cruise Lawyers - You Can Love 'Em or Hate 'Em, But You Need Them.

Yesterday I mentioned our blog's three year anniversary. I was pleased to receive some positive comments back from our readers, particularly on our facebook page. Here is one comment that I received via email from a travel agent which I thought was nice: 

"Congratulations on three very successful, provocative, educational and to say the least enlightening years. As a travel professional your articles have caused me to reconsider may things I advise my clients on when it comes not only to cruising but while taking land vacations also.

Thanks for all the good work."

One of our goals is to educate the public about some of the hidden dangers of cruising. So it's encouraging to hear from travel agents who read our blog and learn that they are mentioning some of the issues and safety points we discuss here.

Cruise Ship Lawyer Miami - Royal Caribbean - CarnivalBut our anniversary also brought us hate e-mail as well.  

When I read emails like the one below, I realize that there is no question that we live in a polarized society. Half of the public understands the need for lawyers to help weak & injured people, and to try and keep large corporations in line. The other half of the public views trial lawyers are a sign of the apocalypse:   

"So why do we have to wait in line to sign the silly waivers to do anything like skate, climb or ride the flowrider? You Ambulance chasers make me ashamed to be an American! I've been on many cruises and they are working extremely hard providing an outstanding and safe product. You don't fool most of us -- we know it's all about money! Why don't you get a real job instead of feeding on the labor of others? I have had many conversations with workers on ships -- you know they think we Americans are a bunch of lazy bums looking to sue. It's true -- they laugh at our silly warning labels!

Thank you Mr Lawyer! Mr. Ambulance Chaser."

When I receive emails like this I have to stop and scratch my head. "Waivers" on cruise ships are against the law. There is absolutely no reason to ever stand in a line on a cruise ship to sign a waiver because they are null, void and unenforceable.

Why are they illegal?  Because lawyers fought for injured passengers. In a case we handled, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal recently struck down a cruise line waiver which purported to strip passengers of their legal rights before they can participate in activities like zip lines, wall climbing, flowriders, rock climbing and skating.

Cruise lines hire large teams of lawyers to advance their legal interests. Any case filed against a Miami-based cruise line will be assigned to a team of lawyers and legal assistants - a partner, senior associate, junior associate and a paralegal or two.

In big cases, cruise lines hire a proverbial city of lawyers. Costa cruise line hired dense lawyers in Rome, Genoa, New York, London, Washington DC and Miami to represent it following the Costa Concordia disaster.  

An average passenger or crew member does not stand a chance against a large corporation like Carnival or Royal Caribbean unless they hire a lawyer.

Yes, there are some silly warning signs on some products which are not needed. We can all agree on that and have a good laugh. But if you are a victim of a crime or serious injury during a cruise and don't hire a lawyer, it will be the cruise line who will be having a laugh at your expense. 

Cruise Law News Celebrates Three Year Anniversary!

This month marks the three year anniversary of my blog, Cruise Law News ("CLN").

I started this blog in September 2009 with the goal of writing about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." There has been a lot to write about.

Shipboard rapes. Molestation of children. Mistreatment of foreign crew members. Overboard passengers and crew. Cruise line cover-ups. You can read it all here.

Three years later, CLN has now published over 1,100 articles and received over 3,200 comments from our readers. The CLN Twitter feed has over 10,000 followers, plus those who subscribe to the blog via email, RSS feed, or Google reader.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about CLN lately is the explosion of our readership on our Facebook page. Over 18,500 people have "liked" CLN's Facebook and are spreading the word.

All of the drama following the Costa Concordia disaster has driven our readership up considerably. So far this year, 724,328 people have read 2,575,675 pages of Cruise Law News.

Being popular is nice, but being influential in shaping cruise news is where the real satisfaction comes Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship Crimefrom. The national and international press have carried our message to the public  You can read about the over 35 major newspapers, television and documentaries which have mentioned our firm and/or cited our blog this year, below.

Just this this week Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel quoted CLN in an article about the latest passenger overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. While Royal Caribbean was boasting that it "immediately" notified the Coast Guard, we pointed out that in truth the cruise line waited over 2 hours to do so.  A few days later we were the first in the U.S. to report on a crew member who disappeared from another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas

The Concordia fallout led to two Congressional hearings this year which we attended and blogged from Washington D.C. about the cruise industry's strategy to bamboozle the public about the safety of cruising. (Photo above right, with members of the International Cruise Victims' organization).     

Chris Owens, a popular cruise blogger who writes for Gadling, characterized our blog as follows:

"Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News adds a sobering tone to what can be an industry that sometimes gets a bit wrapped up in itself, asking and answering tough questions about current maritime matters. First on the doorstep of cruise lines when things go wrong, Walker also does not hesitate to jump into the conversation when passengers have unreasonable demands."

This year we have been very vocal about the sad state of affairs of the cruise industry post Costa Concordia, as well as the plight of families of missing loved ones on cruise ships.  Below is a video from Australia's Dateline regarding the disturbing disappearance of Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder.  This is a case where, in my opinion, the Bahamian police and the Disney corporation have stonewalled the grieving family at every turn.  

A heartfelt thanks to the readers of this blog. Many thanks to those I don't know but who send me anonymous tips about things that the cruise lines are trying to cover up.  

Finally, thanks to everyone who helps me write about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."    

 

 

In this year (2012) alone, CLN and our clients have been featured on CNN's Wolf Blitzer & Erin Burnett, Wall street Journal's "Cruise Safety, a Century After Titanic," Australian Sun Herald's "Boozy Cruises a Recipe For Disaster Expert Warns," Travel Agent Central's "Lawsuits Target Carnival in the U.S. But Will They Succeed?," Examiner's "Costa Favolosa Dancer From South Africa Lost At Sea," USA TODAY's  "Stats Don't Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime," ABC News' "Vacation Danger: Is Cruise Ship Liable for Perils on Shore Excursions?," Virgin Islands Daily News' "Court Rules Lawsuit Over Slain Teen Tourist Should Be Heard," Washington Post's "Dumped in the Caribbean," Newsweek's "The Hidden Horrors of Cruise Ships," CNN's "Cruise Victims Get Minimum Compensation," CNN's "Cruise to Disaster," Daily Business Review's "Lawyer Wins $1.25 Million in Arbitration For Employee Injured Aboard Cruise Ship," South Florida Business Journal's Is Salon Article A Smoking Gun On Cruise Line Crime Stats?, Greenwich Magazine's "Who Killed George Smith?," PBS / NOVA Cruise Special: "Why Ships Sink," Houston Chronicle's "Court Leaves Galveston Cruise Ship Departure Uncertain Until Last Minute," Date Line's "Lost at Sea," Herald Sun's "Cruise Ships Perfect Ground for Predators," 20/20 "Costa Concordia Crash," CNBC's "Travel: Do You Need Medical Evacuation Insurance?," CTV / Canadian Television's "Crime, Fires Compromise Cruise Ship Safety: Experts," International Herald Tribune / New York Times' "Disaster Cripples Cruiser, Not Cruising," Washington Post's "Costa Concordia Sinking Leaves Other Cruise Ship Passengers Alarmed — And Out Of Luck," Cleveland Plain Dealer's "Cruise Ship Accident Prompts Questions About Industry Safety," Examiner"s Passengers Blame Carnival Corporation for Costa Concordia Wreck," Washington Post's "The Ship Sailed, But They Didn't;" and Barbados Free Press' Cruise Ship Horror Stories Good for Island Tourism?

Walker & O'Neill Featured in "Top Verdicts and Settlements" for $1,250,000 Verdict for Injured Crewmember Against Royal Caribbean

The Daily Business Review released "Top Verdicts & Settlements" for last year.  You can click on the digital version here.

We obtained the highest award in an admiralty / maritime case in Florida in 2011.  The case involved an injured crew member from Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas who the cruise line sent back to Serbia and then denied her appropriate medical care and treatment.

We flew our client to Miami and arranged for her to see a board certified orthopedic surgeon who recommended surgery.  Royal Caribbean sent her to a local "litigation doctor" who never testifies that injured crewmembers need surgery.

The three arbitrators ruled that the cruise line failed to provide our client with a safe place to work and was 100% negligent for causing her accident.

The arbitrators also found that Royal Caribbean refused to provide prompt and adequate medical treatment to its injured cruise employee, and that its failure to authorize the necessary surgery "lacked any reasonable defense."

The arbitrators awarded our client $1,250,000, the highest amount in a crewmember case last year and the most ever in a cruise arbitration matter.      


Sexually Assaulted On A Cruise Ship? Call Cruise Law in Miami.

There has been a lot of news lately about cruise ship disasters, like ship fires, groundings and sinkings. But the most likely danger that a passenger, woman or child, faces during a cruise is rape.

Cruise ships are essentially floating cities.  Increasingly larger floating cities at that. Like any city, a cruise ship has crime.  Over the past decade the most likely crime on a cruise ship we have seen is rape.

Cruise lines deny that rapes occur frequently.  Just two days ago the cruise lines issued a PR release Cruise Ship Crime - Rape - Sexual Assaultstating that cruising is "absolutely safe." This is part of the problem.  The cruise lines are so motivated to portray an image of an "absolutely safe" vacation experience that they will go to great lengths to protect that marketing image, including cleaning crime scenes and covering the crimes up.

A decade ago, we obtained a confidential internal study (pursuant to a court order) in which one cruise line concluded that sexual crimes occurred "routinely" in its fleet of cruise ships.  It then embarked on a campaign of representing to the public that such crimes were "rare."

During a series of Congressional hearings several years ago, the same cruise line told Congress that it had 66 rapes over a period of 3 years, for an average of 22 rapes a year.  But during a court case, a trial court in Miami ordered the cruise to to produce its internal documents which revealed the truth - the cruise line actually 273 incidents of sexual assault, harassment and "inappropriate sexual touching."

All of the major cruise lines track sexual crimes and know that there are hundreds of incidents of sexual assault and battery each year during cruises.   

Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many sexual assault cases and molestation cases involving against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

In the cases we have handled, the shipboard rapes were committed by a wide variety of cruise employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor.  The sexual assaults occurred in various locations on the cruise ship, with the most common locations being the passenger cabin, storage room, and crew bathroom.  The most likely assailant?  A male cabin steward from a country outside of the U.S. where it is impossible to conduct a meaningful background check.

Don't expect the cruise lines to be your friend.  They will take the side of their employees every time. And for a number of reasons, law enforcement, especially the FBI, has a terrible record of prosecuting crimes which occur on the high seas.   

Jim Walker - Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise LawJim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago. Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983. Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

Jim and Lisa have represented several sexual assault cruise victims who testified before our U.S. Congress.  These women were assaulted by a bartender, a part-time security guard and even a diving instructor during a cruise sponsored excursion.  

Examples of settlements for cruise ship rape and molestation we obtained include: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $1,000,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000 and $250,000. (All cases are different, depending on the facts.  These settlements may not be reflective of the reasonable compensation in your case).

Here are what people are saying about Jim:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

If you or your child were assaulted during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis. Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com or call our toll free number for a free and confidential consultation: 1 800 256-1518.

 

Photo credits:  Carnival cruise ship at Government Cut, Miami - Jim Walker 

Injured On A Cruise Ship? Call Cruise Law in Miami.

Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many high profile cases involving cruise ship fires, sexual assaults against women and children, and disappearances of passengers and crew around the world. We routinely represent passengers across the United States in serious injury cases, against Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

Jim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago.  Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983.  Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

In the last couple months alone, the firm has appeared on numerous international television program and Walker and O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise Law Miami Floirda cruise documentaries.  Jim was featured on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Last month, Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date.  Here are what people are saying about Jim: 

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media)

In addition to a full time trial practice against cruise lines, the firm publishes this cruise law blog, which is the most popular maritime law and personal injury blog in the world (per AVVO / Alexa rankings). Cruise Law News ("Everything the Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know") has been described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.  

If you or your family suffered a serious injury during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis.  Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.  

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com   

Walker & O'Neill Settles Claim By Royal Caribbean Cabin Attendant

Walker & O'Neill recently settled a claim against Royal Caribbean Cruises on behalf of a seriously injured former crewmember, originally from St. Vincent in the West Indies.

The crewmember was employed as a stateroom attendant for a number of years. Stateroom attendants, also referred to as cabin attendants or cabin cleaners, are required to work long hours and are often assigned over 20 cabins to clean. They are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, cabin interiors, and balconies on exterior cabins for all of the assigned guests, as well changing the linen and making the beds several times a day. The cruise line also presses them into carrying heavy luggage during embarkation days as well.

Royal Caribbean pays cabin attendants only $50 a month in salary.  The crewmembers are dependent on tips from passengers to make a living.Royal Caribbean Crew - Cabin Attendant - Maritime Lawyer   

The crewmember in question was injured on the Enchantment of the Seas while he was lifting a sofa to clean under it and experienced sharp pain in his lower back. He sought treatment from RCCL's on board medical team.

Unfortunately, the cruise line failed to provide prompt and adequate care and deemed him fit to continue working even though he was in immense pain.

Our firm flew the injured crewmember to Miami where we arranged for him to be evaluated by a board certified orthopedic doctor.  We were successful in reaching a settlement of his claim to compensate him for his injury and resulting pain and suffering, and to provide funds for medical treatment in the future.

Please keep in mind when you cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise ships that the cabin attendants work well in excess of 10 hours a days, 7 days a week. That's over 280 hours a month without a day's rest.

Tip them generously! 

 

Photo credit: Jim Walker (photo used with client's consent)

Miami Lawyers Represent Cruise Passengers Sailing From Florida

The Miami Herald reports today that Florida's cruise ports are booming.

A report from the Florida Ports Council shows that Florida leads the nation in cruise operations.  13.5 million passengers embarked on cruises leaving Florida in 2011.  This figure accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations. 

The combination of the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral lead the nation in cruise passengers.  Cruise passengers also cruise from Tampa and Jacksonville.

The majority of these cruise are with Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean cruises lines. All of these cruise lines require that any lawsuits or sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships be filed in Miami Florida.  All cruise lines have what are called "forum selection" clauses in the passenger tickets. The Miami based cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean list United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida as the only location where a lawsuit must be filed.    

The United States Supreme Court addressed this issue and held that forum clauses in Miami are enforceable. In Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585, 593-96, 111 S. Ct. 1522, l527-28, 113 L. Ed. 2d 622, 631-33 (1991), a passenger from Oregon was injured during a Carnival cruise which left a port in California which sailed to Mexico. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the case which the passenger filed in Oregon.  

This year there have been several well publicized lawsuits filed against Carnival, Costa and Royal Caribbean filed in either Houston / Galveston or New York.  All of these lawsuits will be dismissed Jim Walker - Lisa O'Neill - Walker & O'Neill - Maritime Law Firm Miami Floridabecause they were filed in the wrong courthouse. Carnival and Royal Caribbean must be filed in federal court in Miami, and Costa cases (sailing from the US) must be filed in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale.

Our firm is one of the best known firms in the world representing passengers and crew members injured or the victims of crime on cruise ships sailing from Florida or other ports around the world.

Walker & O'Neill and their cruise clients have appeared in documentaries, television and radio programs and in newspapers about cruise accidents and crimes well over 100 times. Jim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates of Duke University. Jim graduated from Tulane law school in New Orleans. Lisa is a cum laude graduate from law school at the University of Florida where she was a member of law review.   They have combined experience of over 56 years.     

Are Lawyers Taking Costa Cruise Survivors Into Dangerous Legal Waters?

As rescue and recovery attempts continue to try and locate the bodies of passengers missing from the Costa Concordia disaster, law firms in the United States are moving forward to file class action lawsuits against Costa Cruises and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, in Miami, Florida.

One of the firms advertising for such cases and taking a high profile position is the New York firm of Proner & Proner.  On its page "Costa Concordia Passengers: We Are Here for You," the Proner firm states that it intends to seek "at least $160,000 on behalf of each of the passengers aboard Costa Concordia Class Action Lawsuit - Miaimithe ship at the time of the wreck. Those who were injured, as well as those with wrongful death claims, may be able to collect multiple times that amount." 

In a telephone interview with a local reporter in Miami, the Proner firm said it intends to represent passengers of "all nations" from "Peru to Shanghai."  It will be seeking to recover "millions" on behalf of the dead or missing passengers.  During the interview, the New York lawyer said a lawyer was flying to Miami to file the class action lawsuit and would include Carnival as a defendant.

Whoa Nellie!  Lets slow down and collect our thoughts for a second. 

Cases against cruise lines are governed by a specialized area of maritime law which is different than land based law.

The courts have applied maritime law to uphold certain contractual limitations set forth in the passenger ticket issued by the cruise lines.  These terms and conditions of the cruise passenger ticket are quite draconian in nature.  Take a minute and read one of our articles about this issue: Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract.

One of the most important contractual terms includes what is called a "forum selection clause."  This clause specifies where the lawsuit must be filed.  The cruise lines identify a location that it convenient for them and inconvenient for the passenger.  The location is usually where the cruise line is located, which gives the cruise line a home court advantage so to speak.  It is inconvenient, time consuming, and expensive for passengers injured during a cruise to travel to the location chosen by the cruise line to file suit.

The cruise lines have been successful in enforcing these type of clauses.  In the case of Shute v. Carnival, the United States Supreme Court required a passenger who lived in Oregon, and injured during a cruise from California to Mexico, to file suit here in Miami.  No the passenger terms and conditions are not fair, but they are routinely enforced.  

For the Concordia disaster, the Costa passenger ticket contains a clause specifying Genoa, Italy as the location for the lawsuit.  Most tickests issued by cruise lines based in Miami like Carnival and Royal Caribbean select Miami as the place where the lawsuit must be filed.  But Costa's ticket is different.  For Costa cruises which call on an U.S. port, the lawsuit has to be filed in Broward County in South Florida.  If the cruise itinerary does not include a U.S. port, the lawsuit must be filed in Italy.

Last year, we wrote about a similar situation.  In Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a passenger was injured while cruising on the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, operated by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in the Pacific Ocean.  After Ms. Seung filed suit in South Florida where the cruise line is based, the defense lawyers moved to dismiss the case arguing that the forum selection claim required the lawsuit to be brought in France.  The federal court here dismissed her case.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal and held that the passenger, from California, had to travel to Paris to pursue her remedies.  Our article is entitled Cruise Forum Selection Clauses: Do You Speak French?

As soon as lawsuits are filed against Costa in this jurisdiction, the cruise line will move to dismiss the cases and will cite the Shute and Seung cases discussed above. 

The cruise line defense lawyers will argue that the lawsuits cannot be filed here.  The Costa company is incorporated in Italy and based in Genoa.  The cruise ship is flagged in Italy.  The disaster occurred in Italian waters.  The Italian Coast Guard responded.  The Italian authorities are investigating the cause of the crash and the casualties. The criminal proceedings are taking place in Italy.  The lawyers for the passengers will be hard pressed to explain why the cases should not be filed in Italy. 

The Costa cruise ticket has another curious twist.  It specifies that Italian law should apply.  For death cases, Italian law may actually provide for a more equitable remedy that the U.S. General Maritime Law and statutory law - particularly where the deceased passengers are retired. 

In the U.S., wrongful deaths on the "high seas" (non U.S, territorial waters, including territorial waters of other countries) are governed by a federal statute called the Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").  There is no recovery under DOSHA for pre-death pain and suffering or emotional losses of the surviving family members such as grief and bereavement.  The only recovery is for financial losses such as lost wages of the decedent.   If the decedents are retired or children, then there are no recoverable damages except for burial and funeral expenses assuming the bodies are located. 

So if the wrongful death cases are filed in the U.S., and the court applies U.S. law, there may be no recovery in certain death cases.  Yet if the cases were filed in Italy, there could be recovery under Italian law.  A passenger could conceivably file suit in a more convenient forum in the U.S. yet receive no recovery; whereas if the passenger filed suit in a less convenient location in Italy there may be greater recovery in some cases.

Then there is the matter of Carnival.  Yes it is the parent company of Costa.  And yes, as the Proner lawyers mention to the news reporter, it collects over 14 and 1/2 billion dollars a year.  But  that does not automatically give anyone a basis to sue it in Miami every time one of its subsidiary company's cruise ships around the world suffer a casualty.  

There are often severe consequences of filing suit in the wrong location or against the wrong party, including the assessment of costs and in some circumstances attorney fees. 

We hope that the lawyers who are working faster than the recovery teams in Italy to file suit here in Miami know what they are doing and are not navigating their clients into dangerous legal waters. 

Cruise Law: Miami Cruise Ship Law Update

This weekend the cruise port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broke a new record with the most cruise passengers entering or leaving the port.  The Sun Sentinel reports that around 106,000 passengers will transit through Port Everglades on 24 cruise ships.  Each day from Friday through Sunday will see 8 cruise ships return and then leave the port full of passengers.   

The newspaper suggested an interesting visual perspective: If lined up bow to stern, the cruise ships sailing through Port Everglades this weekend are as tall as 22 Eiffel Towers, or as long as Port Everglades Cruise Port - Cruise Law72 football fields . . .

The heavy port activity is the result of New Year / Holiday cruise ships returning to South Florida.  

Unfortunately not all of the cruises turned out to be safe experiences. 

Multiple sexual assaults occurred on the world's largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas, during a cruise over the New Year.  We discussed the alleged crimes in an article last Wednesday.  The alleged rapists were passengers from Brazil.  It is interesting to note that they were not arrested by the FBI but by the Broward Sheriff's Office.  Florida is the only state where the local police or sheriff officers can arrest and the state can prosecute crimes on the high seas.  In all other states, only the federal government can assert such jurisdiction.   

The alleged crime was finally reported by the Miami Herald yesterday and the newspaper mentioned our previous article.  It is good to see the the Miami Herald reporting on cruise ship crimes.  The Herald historically ignores stories like this and does not seem to want to anger the local cruise lines here in Miami who are major advertisers with the newspaper.  The Herald also included coverage on its Spanish edition, el Neuvo Herald - "Arrestado Hombre Acusado de Violación En Un Crucero."

Our firm was also mentioned in an interesting article about cruise ship norovirus and whether cruise line are taking adequate steps to sanitize their ships.  E Turbo News (Global Travel Industry News) published an article "When Bugs Swim: Cruise Ships Provide Perfect Environment for Spread of Disease."  I talked about my experience interviewing cruise ship cleaners who believe that the EcoLab spray disinfectants cause injury to their lungs.  They admitted pouring the anti-bacterial solutions down the drain and replacing the solutions with water.  So when they wipe the wet rags over the cruise ship surfaces, they are probably just spreading the nasty viruses George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Cruise Crimeeverywhere.  No wonder the cruise lines seem to have a problem with norovirus outbreaks.

The big news this weekend was the media hype surrounding DateLine NBC's update on the disappearance of cruise passenger George Smith who went overboard in July 2005.  Unfortunately, there was nothing new presented in the hour long show.  You can read our last article about Mr. Smith's situation here.  I have always thought the case involved foul play and the four men last seen with George Smith know more than they have admitted.  At least the DateLine program returned the public's attention to this unsolved case.   

With the renewed interest in Mr. Smith's case the popular Cruise Radio program aired a prior interview with me which you can listen to here

This blog started the new year out with our own record.  According to Google analytics, over 20,000 visitors read over 67,000 pages for the first 8 days of 2012.  

If you have a question about cruise ship law or want our perspective on a cruise related story, please contact me directly at jwalker@cruiselaw.com    

Cruise Law News RoundUp - September 17, 2011

Cruise ship issues in Europe dominated the world of cruise news this week.

An explosion in the engine room of the Nordlys cruise ship, operated by Hurtigruten, resulted in a fire and the evacuation of the ship off of Norway.  Half of the 200 or so passengers were evacuated in lifeboats and the other half got off the cruise ship when the vessel was towed to port.  All passengers were safe but unfortunately two 2 crewmembers died and many were injured.      

Whenever a cruise ship explodes or catches on fire, there is always a cruise / travel columnist who feels compelled to publish an article insisting that such cruise calamities are rare.  This time it was Jane Pearl of Scandinavia - Cruise Ship FireArcher, a cruise fan and columnist who writes for the Telegraph Travel. Her puff piece article Hurtigruten Fire: How Safe is Your Cruise? claims that "incidents like this are few and far between."

The problem with this claim is that just last year an engine room fire caused the evacuation of over 600 passengers and crew in Norwegian waters.

That incident involved the German cruise ship Deutschland.  And just last November a cruise ferry, the Pearl of Scandinavia, erupted in fire off of Norway while filled with cars and passengers (photo left).

Ms. Archer somehow overlooked these two recent cruise ship fires in Norwegian waters.  Cruise ship fires are not as uncommon as cruise columnists may want you to think.  Take a moment and read Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

The other big development in Europe involved the parents of missing Disney Cruises youth counselor Rebecca Coriam meeting with the U.K. Shipping Minister to discuss enacting legislation to permit the U.K. to become involved in the investigation when British citizens disappear on foreign flagged cruise ship around the world.  Mike and Ann Coriam of Chester England are understandably upset with the lack of information from the cruise line and the single policeman from the Bahamas who is charged with investigating the disappearance.    

While the Coriam family was working to make cruising safer for the U.K. public, another cruise passenger disappeared from the Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship. Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew.  We reported on the unexplained disappearance of another passenger  from the Balmoral last year.  The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.  

On a lighter personal note, the season finally started for my younger son's JV football team.  Gulliver was trounced by rival Belen Jesuit, but my son got to play running back, split end and corner back.  He ran across the field and got a big hit on Belen's running back at the one yard line to save the touchdown.  Watch the play to the end!

  

Photo credits:

Pearl of Scandinavia - AFP

Video -  richardsalinas29 youtube   

Cruise Ship Accidents - Miami Maritime Lawyer

Over 5 million cruise ship passengers cruise out of the port of Miami each year.  Many sail on cruise ships like the Carnival Destiny, pictured below as its leaves Miami Beach and heads south to the Caribbean.

The majority of our articles here at Cruise Law News address current issues which occur all too often on cruise ships - like outbreaks of norovirus, shipboard sexual assaults, or passenger and crew members overboards.

Cruise Law - Jim Walker - Miami Maritime LawyerBut this article addresses the most common incident on a cruise ship - when a passenger slips and falls on a deck on the ship.  These incidents occur literally on every single cruise.  Fractured hips, broken kneecaps, displaced ankle-fractures requiring surgery  . .  and so forth.  The accidents occur by the buffets, by the pools, in the dining rooms, on the exterior decks - everywhere. 

Here are few things to keep in mind if you are a passenger injured during a cruise:

If possible, don't let the cruise line dump you off in a port in Mexico or a Caribbean port.  Its often better to tough it out a day or two and  get back to a U.S. port or fly back to the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible.  The surgical skills of the doctors in Mexico or the Caribbean islands are about 30 years behind U.S. standards.  Hopefully, you have trip insurance and your air ambulance back to the U.S. is covered - otherwise you are looking at $30,000 out of your pocket to fly back to the States.

Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses who can verify the conditions surrounding your accident.  The cruise line will never provide you with the accident report or statements of witnesses.  Never.  The cruise line's lawyers will blame you.  It does not matter that you sailed with Royal Caribbean 25 times and are a Diamond Club member.  Once you are a liability to the cruise lines, you have not seen a worse enemy.  Protect yourself.

Read the terms of your passenger ticket.  There is some important information in there.  Like, you have to notify the cruise line of your intention to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and disability within six months of your accident.  And if you need to file a claim, there is only a one (1) year limitations period to file the claim.  This is a much shorter limitations period - most states have a statute of limitations of up to four (4) years.  If you snooze, you lose! 

Be ready to travel to Miami for your lawsuit.  All of the cruise lines have "forum selection" clauses, whereby the cruise lines require to travel to a particular location to file your claim.  The cruise line is betting that you will not read the terms of the ticket and will file suit in the wrong courthouse - hopefully more than one year after your accident!.  The following cruise lines require that you file suit in Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Cape Canaveral):  

Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney (Magical Cruise Company), MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, SilverSea, and Star Clipper. 

If you file suit untimely and in the wrong jurisdiction, you will lose your rights!

For additional information, please read my interview about passenger rights - now ten years old!

Cruise Ship Accident - Cruise Injury - Cruise Lawyer - Miami

 

Credits:

Photographs         Jim Walker

 

About Jim Walker

"Everything the cruise lines don't want you to know" is the motto of this award winning maritime law blog authored by Miami lawyer Jim Walker.  

The New York Times describes Jim as "a maritime lawyer in Miami who has attended more than half a dozen Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety." Jim has been involved in maritime litigation since 1983.  Based in Miami, Florida, Jim represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships around the world. He is interviewed frequently when there are fires and mishaps at seas.  He is asked to appear regularly on television programs and share his views of disasters at sea. 

Cruise Law - Jim Walker - Miami Florida

In 2017, Jim has continued as one of the "go to" maritime lawyers when things go wrong on the high seas. So far this year, he has appeared in Aquatic International Royal Caribbean Advertises for Lifeguards; Vocativ Online Cruise Magazine Offers ‘America’ To Banned Travelers.

In 2016, he has appeared in the Sun Sentinel Video of Carnival worker's grizzly death sparks Internet uproar; Examiner's Carnival Ecstasy death: VIDEO taken of bloody, gruesome scene sparks uproar; Wall Street Journal Federal Authorities Investigate Chipotle Outbreak; Maritime Executive Crewmembers of NCL Cruise Ship Arrested for Smuggling; Yahoo Travel Is Your Cruise Ship Prepared for a Terrorist Attack?; Yahoo Travel Is the Caribbean More Dangerous Than You Realize?; Travel Agent Central Anthem of the Seas Encounters Rough Weather in Atlantic; USA TODAY Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm; CBS Channel 2 New York Cruise Ship (Anthem of the Seas) Returns to Port and Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Expected To Return To New Jersey On Wednesday Night; Weather Channel Back in Port, Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Crew Recounts All That Went Wrong; Captain Blames Forecast; ABC Good Morning America Nightmare at Sea" Comes to an End; (video) CNN Should Anthem of the Seas have set sail in light of storm warnings?; gCaptain Anthem of the Seas — Is She Seaworthy?; Clarkcase Cruise Ships Not Prepared for Terrorism (article) and (video). ANNCPRESS Experts: Royal Caribbean blew it on storm – WCNC; Above the Law Legal Bloggers Ought Feel A Lift With ‘Spotlight’ Winning Oscar; Daily Mail Coast Guard searches for man, 46, who fell overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Florida; The Inquisitr Man Falls Off Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Near Florida, Coast Guard Launches Search Operation; Metro Coastguard search for man after he falls 100ft from Royal Caribbean cruise ship; AOL Travel Coast Guard searches for man who fell overboard from cruise ship; Travel Agent Central Celebrity Cancels Bali Port Call Over Terrorism Potential; Caribbean 360 Crime remains critical in the Bahamas, says US State Department; Smithsonian Cruise Ship Set to Sail the Perilous Northwest Passage; DaiyEcho Inspections reveal cockroaches and potentially hazardous cheese on Southampton-based Oceana and Oriana; Daily Mail Live cockroaches, dirty grout and 'potentially hazardous' cheese found on luxury cruise liners which inspectors rule are a health hazard to passengers; Capital Hill Cubans Must Read: Carnival Discriminates Against Cuban-Americans;Telegraph Cuban Americans banned from first cruise to Cuba in decades; Miami Herald Carnival’s wrong call; Maritime Executive Tightening the Security Envelope; New York Daily News Two cruise passengers from U.S. missing in Jamaica, may have traveled to Montego Bay. Daily Mail Police appeal for help as US couple on luxury Caribbean boat cruise vanish after disembarking at Jamaican port. Inquisitr Two American Cruise Ship Passengers From California Go Missing in Jamaica; New Zealand's Stuff Travel Passengers forced to abandon cruise after 'freak wave' floods cabins; New Times Ten-Year-Old Drowned on Norwegian Ship Because Cruise Line Won't Employ Lifeguards, Family Claims; Orlando Sentinel Nearly 100 sickened on Disney Wonder cruise ship; gCaptain Cruise Ship Passenger Safety In Focus After Woman Falls Overboard from Carnival Liberty; The Independent Journal Mom on Cruise Ship falls Overboard. Here's the Sad Reason Friends Didn't Call for Help Earlier; The Epoch Times Missing Cruise Ship Passenger’s Friends Didn’t Notice Her Missing for 10 Hours; Miami Herald Boy, 8, Crticial after Nearly Drowning in Cruise Swimming Pool; Opposing Views Bahamas Travel Advisory Is Just Tit For Tat; Engle International Cruises: New Targets for Terrorism?; New York Times 7 Safety Tips for Your Cruise Vacation; Aquatics International Cruise Ship Drownings Continue - Children Continue to Die in Pools on Cruise Ships with No Lifeguards; Travel Agent Central Chinese Cruise Passenger Goes Overboard, Rescued 38 Hours Later; Inquirer (Philippines) Seafarer ‘Protection Act’ shields ship owners, not seafarers; Fortuna, non Deo Nearer, my God, to Thee; CHEK News (Canada) Pools drain, dishes fly in cruise ship incident near Victoria; St. Lucia News Saint Lucia remains a safe tourist destination: Tourism Minister; Huffington Post Canada Carnival Legend Cruise Ship Tilts Several Degrees Before Docking In Victoria. gCaptain Two Crew Killed as Viking River Cruise Ship Wheelhouse Hits Low Bridge in Germany [Incident Photos]; Travel Agent Central Guest Reported Fire Extinguished on Emerald Princess; Miami News Times Kids Drown in Cruise Ship Pools With No Lifeguards on Duty; Miami New Times Family Sues Carnival After 6-Year-Old Boy Drowns in Cruise Ship Pool; Reader's Digest 28 Secrets Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You; Miami Herald Carnival Corp ship caught in pollution scheme. Now they’re paying $40 million for it; News.com (Australia) The one issue you should consider before going on a cruise; Havana Times Cuba Opens Up Its Ports to Polluting Cruise Ships; Tourism Concern 5 Tips Cruise Lines Don’t Give You!; Feedspot Top 50 Cruise Blogs And Websites on the Web; Miami New Times Miami-Based Royal Caribbean to Add Lifeguards on Cruises; TravelPulse Is Royal Caribbean International Adding Lifeguards to Its Ships?

Jim was interviewed by NBC about Carnival Corporation at the port of Miami: 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In 2015, Jim appeared in Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises conceTns about lack of lifeguards; AOL Travel U.K. 4-month-old baby kicked off Disney cruise ship; Inquisitr Royal Caribbean Passenger Falls Overboard Unnoticed - Man Saved By Passing Disney Cruise Line Ship; This is Cozumel Cozumel Cruiser’s Miraculous Sea Rescue; ABC KVUE Disney Crew rescues Royal Caribbean passenger; Daily Mail Disney cruise stages dramatic rescue of passenger who fell overboard from passing Royal Caribbean liner after holidaymakers spot him in water; CNN Man falls from one cruise ship, is rescued by another five hours late; Florida Today Disney crew rescues Royal Caribbean passenger; MercoPress Dramatic rescue of a passenger vessel who fell overboard triggers safety debate; Thrillist Dude Falls Overboard on Cruise, Gets Rescued by Disney Cruise Ship; Wall Street Journal Crisis of the Week: Royal Caribbean Goes Overboard; The Pulp Carnival Cruise Passenger Says She Was Raped by Crew Member While Her Kids Watched; x20 Org Maritime Thermal Imaging Cameras for Automated Man Overboard Rescue – Is Your Cruise Ship Safe?; Travel Weekly Factors in the industry’s improved safety record; ABC-5 Cleveland Couple issues warning about cruise ship security after engagement ring stolen; Cruise.co.uk "Disclosure of crimes committed on cruise ships should be a worldwide requirement;" Wikipedia M.S. Empress; The Independent (U.K.) Costa Concordia trial: Was captain Francesco Schettino really the only one at fault for the disaster?; The Gatestone Institute ISIS Sets Sights on the Mediterranean; Travel Pulse Cruise Ship Passenger Drowns at Bahamian Disney Island; Yahoo Travel / Fox News What Happens When Someone Falls Overboard on a Cruise?; Washington Times The Return of the Barbary Pirates; WDBJ 7 (CBS) Virginia Tech identifies student who went overboard a cruise ship and (video); KHOU Houston Body found after passenger falls from Carnival Triumph; TravelMole Was a terror attack on cruise passengers inevitable?; ABC-13 Carnival Triumph Arrives in Galveston Following Tragedy; NASDAQ Investor Place Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL); Daily Mail Body found in the Gulf of Mexico after 54-year-old passenger is seen falling overboard on cruise surveillance footage; Yahoo Travel How the Cruise Industry is Coping with ISIS Attacks on Passengers in Tunisia; Yahoo Travel Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Siege; Caribbean 360 US issues second warning in two months on escalating Bahamas crime; Wikipedia Bardo National Museum attack; Consumer Traveler Is Cruising Safe?; WTSP Apparent murder-suicide aboard Tampa cruise ship (video); Examiner Ohio couple found dead on cruise ship, possible murder-suicide; New Europe Costa Concordia was carrying Mafia’s cocaine shipment; Elliott Terrorists target cruise ships — here’s what you need to know now; Ocala Post Carnival Cruise Line denied refund; later “had a change of heart;” Caribbean 360 US issues second warning in two months on escalating Bahamas crime; Maritime Executive Drug Bust: Cruise Ship Galley Worker Arrested; Loyola Consumer Law Review CRIMES AND MEDICAL CARE ON BOARD CRUISE SHIPS: DO THE STATISTICS FIT THE CRIMES?; World Cruise Industry Review Welcome to the safe side – examining the cruise industry’s safety record; Yahoo Travel Man Overboard! Disney Cruise Rescues Royal Caribbean Passenger from Ocean; Biscayne Times Check Those Score Cards - Not All Cruise Lines Operate the Same; LexPress (Mauritius) Accusé de crime sexuel aux Etats-Unis: un Mauricien plaide coupable; eGlobal Travel Media Arrests as drug lords switch to cruise ship trafficking; Orlando Sentinel Micky Arison: Florida's Richest Person; Travel Mole Child drowns in cruise ship pool' Yahoo Travel After Another Child Drowns, Critics Ask: Why Don’t More Cruise Lines Have Lifeguards?; Examiner Prominent maritime attorney speaks out about children drowning on cruise ship.

More media appearances by Cruise Law News in 2015 includes Daily Mail Cruise ship from Boston carrying 3,500 on board runs aground near Bermuda; Seattle PI Attorney: Holland America failed woman raped, beaten on cruise; Inquisitr Disney Cruise Line: Officer Found Dead Aboard The Disney Dream In The Bahamas; Yahoo Travel Should Alaska Ban Floatplanes After Accident Kills Cruise Passengers?; Security Management Safety at Sea; Tourism Concern Floating Abominations: Exposing the Cruise Ship Industry; Ship Technology Market and Customer Insight Sound the alarm: should man overboard detection tech be fitted on cruise ships? Inquisitr Cruise Ship Catches Fire: Royal Caribbean Passengers Safe After Incident In Jamaica; Space Coast Daily VIDEO: Port Canaveral-Based Freedom of the Seas Catches Fire In Jamaican Port; Twitter Cruise Industry Supports Mass Murder of Whales in Faroe Island; Loop (Jamaica) Falmouth cruise ship blaze was no ‘small fire’ – US Maritime Lawyer; Marketplace Oceanliners cruise to better results; gCaptain Best Cruise Ship Captain Ever Addresses Passengers About Fire – VIDEO; Travel Pulse Viking Star Stranded with Engine Problem; Defi (Estonia) Reisijad: oleme juba mitmendat päeva Tallinna sadamas uhiuuel kruiisilaeval "lõksus;" Bergens Tidende (Norway) Motortrøbbel for Viking Star - Bergensbåten måtte avbryte cruise halvveis; Travel Agent Central Viking Star Has Propulsion Issue; Cruise Line Cancels Current Cruise; ABA Journal - Seven Cruise Ship Disasters: Royal Caribbean Brillia.nce of the Seas; ABA Journal - Seven Cruise Ship Disasters: Star Princess; Telegraph Alcohol ban for crew of Queen Mary 2 after Chilean chef jumps overboard; Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson STOP THE VOYAGES TO HELL - Whale Friendly Tourists are not Welcome in the Danish Faroe Islands; Caribbean 360 Rising tide of Bahamas crime triggers new UK and Canada travel advisories; CBS Boca Raton Woman Stranded After Carnival Cips for Years,ruise Fire; Elliott Another cruise passenger goes overboard, but are we doing enough?; Yahoo News Man Overboard! Disney Cruise Rescues Royal Caribbean Passenger from Ocean; Go Port Canaveral Our Favorite Cruise Blogs; Real Lawyers Have Blogs Some lawyers blog for SEO, others blog to make a difference; Travel Pulse 'Miracle Baby' Delivered Aboard Royal Caribbean International Cruise; Caribbean 360 US latest to slap travel advisory on The Bahamas amid rise in robberies; Travel Agent Central Star Princess Hit With Norovirus: Ship Cleaned and Back in Service; Yahoo Travel The Caribbean's Most Dangerous Cruise Stops Will Surprise You; Caribbean 360 Cruise concern about crime in Caribbean destinations; Crime Watch Daily Cruise Ship Crime Difficult to Prosecute, Convic; Yahoo Travel Another Passenger Overboard! Why Do People Keep Falling Off Cruises?; Inquisitr Fake Doctor Arrested After Treating Hundreds of Customers on Cruise Ships for Years; Cracked People Just Disappear: 5 Reasons Cruise Ships Are Nightmares; eGlobal Travek Media ‘Trust me, I’m a doctor’ – bogus cruise medic arrested; Caribbean 360 Cruise ship passengers killed in excursion accident in Tortola; Barbados Today Two Die in Tortola Excursion; Ship 2 Shore (Italy) MSC Cruises convicted in Brazil for exploitation; Tribune 242 Jet Ski Operator’s Arrest Draws International Concern; Law Fuel 7 Surefire Social Media Steps for Finding New Clients in 2016; Caribbean 360 Investigation launched as video shows cruise ship damaging Cayman Islands reef; Inside Counsel Holland America’s recent $21 million lawsuit amount ‘rather unusual,’ cruise expert says.

Jim Walker - Maritime Lawyer

Jim appeared in the documentary "Why Ships Sink" for Nova, discussing the Costa Concordia.

In 2014, Jim appeared in the Nassau Guardian "U.S. Attorney Raises A.larm Over Crime;" Caribbean360 "Bahamas "One Gunshot Away' From Being Dropped by Cruise Lines;" ABC News' "How Prepared Are Cruise Ships If You Go Overboard?; Nine News World "Woman Suing Cruise Company for Drunken Fall;" ABC 20/20 Program "Man Overboard Cases" (video); Il Mattino "Ubriaca vola in mare dalla nave da crociera. Le drammatiche immagini delle telecamere di controllo;" CNN "Cruise Ship Nightmares;" Wikipedia "Carnival Cruise Lines;" CTV News (Canadian Child Drowns In Cruise Ship Poolelevision) "Explorer of the Seas Norovirus;" CTV's Kevin Newman Live; Antigua Observer "Cruise Lawyer Says German Ship Has No Case;" U.K.'s Daily Mail "Coast Guard Searches for Celebrity Cruise Line Chef Who Fell Overboard in the Caribbean;" Nassau Guardian "Challenging the Status of Crime in the Caribbean;" Dominican Today "Social Media and Managing Reputation;"  Huff Post Crime "Child Drowns In Cruise Ship Pool;" Baltimore Post-Examiner "Bahamas Fight Violent Crime in Midst of Hotel Boom;" Agenda (a Financial Times Service) "Critics Rip Carnival Exec’s Golden Parachute;" Washington Post "Norovirus Outbreaks Make Both Cruise Lines and Passengers Leery;" WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime;" CNN New Day, "Crew Member Accused of Attacking Cruise Passenger, Tying to Push Her Overboard," Sun Sentinel, "Assaults on Cruise Ships Happen, But Not Often;" Liberty Voice "Holland America Line Room Service Included Rape Assault," ABC NEWS Channel 7 Chicago "Woman Alleges Cruise Ship Sex Assault by Angry Crew Member;" FOX 45 "Cruise Attendant accused of Sexual Assault;" Market Watch "Do Cruise Lines Have a Crime Problem?;" Seattle Times "A sick way to cruise - Who’s to blame and what’s the compensation when norovirus strikes a cruise ship?;" KSAT "UTSA Student Sexually Assaulted During Cruise Vacation;" Nassau Guardian "Christie and Davis' Troubling Statements on Crime;" "Fire Cruise: Crime, Drugs and Fires on Cruise Ships" by Ken Rossignol ("the Cruise Law News website was invaluable in assembling material for this book);" ABC Local News 5 Cleveland "Concern Grows Over Cruise Ship Crime Reporting; Local Law Enforcement Agencies Lack Jurisdiction;" Chicago Tribune "Taking the Kids -- and keeping them safe around the water;" New Times "Videos Show MSC Cruise Line Employees Tossing Bags of Trash Overboard;" eGlobal Travel Media "MSC Cruises Magnifica Accused of Dumping Garbage in the Ocean Off Brazil;" Huffington Post "Cruise Ship Workers Appear To Throw Bags Of Garbage Right Into The Ocean (VIDEO);" U.K.'s Daily Mail  "Caught on camera: The moment cruise ship crew member hurled garbage bags straight into the ocean off Brazilian coast in violation of international law;" AOL Travel "Cruise ship worker filmed 'throwing rubbish bags into ocean' (video);" FOX News "What's the deal with no lifeguards on cruise ships?;" Le Martin (Switzerland, French speaking newspaper) "Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan" Reizen (Dutch newspaper) "Betrapt: bemanning cruise kiepert vuilnis zomaar in zee;" Travel Pulse "Royal Caribbean Faces PR Backlash After Issues On Three Separate Cruises;" Philly.com "Rough sailing when virus comes aboard;" Travel Pulse "Following Death Of Crew Member, Norwegian Cancels Calls to Roatán;" CNN "33 Dead in Ferry Sinking, Captain Faces Charges;" Big John & Amy Show 560 AM (Chicago) Korean Ferry Disaster; St Lucia OnLine "St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world;" St. Maarten Island Time "Port of St. Maarten Not Listed in Cruise Law News Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World - Destination must remain safe, secure and hospitable;" Barbados Nation News "US Blogger Takes a Swipe at Barbados;" Nassau Guardian: U.S. Based Attorney Lists Bahamas As "Most Dangerous" Cruise Port;" OB2 "Legal expert ranks worst crime-torn cruise destinations;" U.K.'s Daily Mail "Riding the crime wave: Lawyers reveal the world's most dangerous cruise ports of call;" Travel Mole "Report identifies most dangerous cruise destinations;" Nassau Guardian: Most Dangerous Cruise Destination Claim Not Accurate;" Nassau Guardian "Bahamas Spot On Crime List causes Skepticism, Concern;" Business of Tourism "Crime Levels Continue to Be Major Problem for Destination Bahamas;" Times Picayune "Coast Guard searching for man who jumped from cruise ship;" NB12 News (Video) "Bahamas Named Most Dangerous Cruise Destination;" WINN FM "Questions raised about fatal boat accident;" Il Fatto Alimentare "Passeggeri della Crown Princess vittime di un’infezione gastrointestinale causata dal Norovirus;" CNN "Brutal Cruise Ship Assault;" Cruising Done Right "Crime On the Rise? Find Out Yourself!; USA Prepares "Trash of the Wealthy Dumped in the Ocean;" LexBlog "Cruise lawyer Jim Walker captures media attention, forces response from government officials;" Nassau Guardian "Canadian Man Warns of Crime in the Bahamas;" Professional Mariner "Cruise industry debates whether mega ships are safe enough;" LexBlog "Blogging with Passion Turns Cruise Lawyer Jim Walker into Industry Watchdog;" Above the Law "On Blogging: Throw Your Heart Over The Bar, Let Your Writing Follow;" USA TODAY "The Top 20 Best Cruise Bloggers;" Cayman Compass "Tourism chiefs vigilant over crime threat;" Canna Law Blog "Pot Is Illegal And Don’t You Forget It: Royal Gazette "Island’s tough line on cruise ship passengers with drugs is criticized;" Royal Gazette "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times;" Maritime Executive "Man Overboard from Carnival Spirit;" Naples Daily News "Cruise ship crimes: What you should know (Video);" Opposing Views Family Not Allowed To Re-Book Norwegian Cruise Lines Reservation After Son Diagnosed With Cancer; TravelPulse Norwegian Faces PR Backlash For Refusing Cancer Family Refund; CNN Cruise Ship Horror Stories (Includes our client Laurie Dishman); Miami Herald / AP Carnival plans to build cruise port in Haiti; CBS Money Watch Haiti looks to welcome back tourists; Washington Post Some cruise lines take a hard stance on refunds, even when a relative dies; Maritime Executive Another Death in Cruise Ship Swimming Pool; Montreal Gazette Transgender cruise raises concern; Independent (Macedonia) Denisa Fell Off the Ship, the Captain Reported Her Missing; Macedonian Newspaper Security Cameras on the Ship Where Young Denisa Markoska Disappeared Not Working?; CruiseNewser April Fool’s Day: Carnival to incorporate in the US; PRNewser Another Cruise Industry #PRFail?; CruisingMates MSC allegedly dumps rubbish at sea; Wes Neuman Proper Behavior in a Hearing; Miami Herald: DOT Launches New Site for Cruise Passengers; Tradewinds Princess Crewman Killed; gCaptain Crewmember Killed, Another Injured in Cruise Ship Rescue Boat Accident; Sun Sentinel Celebration Passengers Describe Chaotic Scene; New York Times U.S. Embassy Warns of Crime in Bahamas; UPI U.S. Warns of Sex Assaults on Bahamas Tourists; WPRO Radio (Rhode Island) Watch Out for Crime in the Bahamas - WPRO Interviews Jim Walker; Tribune Water Sports Operators Hold Talks With Ministry Over Safety Of Tourists; SHM (Australia) Cruise Liner Loses Passenger at Sea; News Talk 2UE 954 (Australia) How many people fall off cruises each year? How? James Walker, lawyer & cruise safety advocate joins us; LexBlog Legal newsrooms may be shrinking, but coverage is increasing via blogs; Otago Daily News 'Pukefest' as norovirus bug hits cruise ship; The Independent (Ireland) Hundreds of luxury cruise passengers confined to cabins to avoid norovirus 'pukefest;' eGlobal Travel Media ‘Pukefest’ and ‘heave ho’ describe cruise ship outbreak; Tribune (Nassau, Bahamas) Bahamas Named Among Worst Cruise Ports; ABC 15 New Cruise Ship Law; LexBlog The blogging lawyer as a citizen journalist; U.K. Daily Mail New Regulations Force Cruise Companies to Publish Online Crime List Documenting Statistics for Thefts, Rapes and Murders Committed on Ships; Tribune US Crime Alerts Reported In NY Times; Gyi Tsakalakis Web Marketing Power of Web Presence; Above the Law 12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014; LexBlog Blog of the Year; Caribbean Council Social Media and the Caribbean; CruiseRadio 9 Cruise Websites for a Virtual Escape.  

In 2013, Jim appeared in the following television shows, newspapers and radio programs: CNN Opinion's "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know", AP's "No Central Agency Oversees, Inspects Cruise Ships," WGN Radio (Chicago), Miami Herald, Newsday's "Carnival Triumph: First Lawsuit Filed in Cruise Ship Fiasco," Wall Street Journal Law Blog's "Why Suing Carnival Could be a Waste," Reuters, American Bar Journal's "Cruise Ship Fires Occur with ‘Alarming Frequency,’ Maritime Lawyer Says;" Forbes' "Ship Isn't The Only Thing That Stinks At Carnival: Low Tax Rate Stirs Ire," WWL Radio (New Orleans) "Cruise Ship Safety," CNN Travel's "Lawsuit Filed Over 'Floating Hell' Cruise" (Video), U.K's Daily Mail, ABC News' 20/20 "Troubled Waters" (Video), CNBC's Squawk on the Street's "Carnival & Legal Obligations" (Video), CTV's "Will Compensation Keep Cruise Ship Lawsuits at Bay?, Business Insider's "Passengers On Stranded Cruise Ship Are Camping On Deck And Waiting In Line For Food," Times of Malta's "International Lawyer Praises Malta on Cruise Liner Tragedy," Bloomberg's "Carnival Ship Fire Strands 3,100 Guests Off Mexican Coast,"  Sun Sentinel's "Carnival Cruise Nightmare: Why Evacuation is not an Option," America Public Media's "Worst Cruise Ever: Can I Sue?;" Yahoo Finance's "Cruise Ship Fire Highlights Past Incidents."

The GO-TO CRUISE LAW ATTORNEY - FEATURED IN HUNDREDS OF TELEVISION, CABLE NEWS, RADIO, DOCUMENTARY, MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND PROGRAMS ABOUT CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND CONTROVERSIES 

Rush Limbaugh's "Media Targets Evil Carnival Cruise Company," Insurance Journal, Travel Blackboard, Local 10 News (Miami), Business Insider's "Good Luck Finding Out If The Cruise Ship You're Traveling On Is Safe," South Florida Business Journal"s "New Twists in Boozing and Ocean Cruising," ABC's 20/20 "Troubled Waters" (Video), U.K. Daily Mail, Times of Malta's International Lawyer Praises Malta on Cruise Liner Tragedy," Business Journalism's "Cruise Ship Saga: Business Story Angles and Resources," ABC News' "Death of Cruise Ship Singer Jackie Kastrinelis Remains a Mystery," KRPC TV (Houston) "Local 2 Investigates Carnival Cruise Fires" (Video), U.K. Daily Mail's "First Passenger Sues Cruise Line Over 'Horrifying' Conditions on Stricken Carnival Vessel," WOR 710 Radio (New York), Thomson Reuters' Triumph Passengers Bring Class Action Against Carnival," Seattle Times' Cruise Lawsuits Are In, But Carnival Has Advantage," Travel Weekly's "Triumph Suits Add to CCL's Woes," Newsweek's "Carnival Cruise from Hell," Daily Business Review: "Justice Watch: Triumph Passengers Face a Sea of Issues," Travel agent Central's "Update on Carnival Triumph - Lawsuits Filed, One First-Timer Weighs In," CBS Peter Greenberg "Why It’s Hard for Passengers to Sue Post-Carnival Triumph," Local 10 (Miami) "3 Carnival Cruise Line fires since Nov. 2010" (video), Travel agent Central's Can Victims of Costa Concordia Sue in the U.S.?, Daily Business Review's and National Law Journal's "Federal Judge Sends Concordia Lawsuits back to Miami-Dade," CruiseMates' "Cruise Ship System Failures," Quaratz's "One of the Secrets to Carnival Cruise’s Unsinkable Business Model: Free Coast Guard Rescues," Philadelphia Inquiry's "Pregnant?You May not be Able to Cruise," South Florida Business Journal's "Carnival Shares Drop with Reputation Under Assault," CBS Baltimore's "FBI Investigating Suspicious Death On Cruise Ship That Set Sail From Baltimore," International Business Times' "Cruise Ship Death: FBI Probes Suspicious Death Aboard Royal Caribbean Baltimore Cruise; "MSN News' "Cruise Ship Death Spotlights Murky Waters of Fatalities at Sea;" Cruising Done Right's "Maritime Lawyer Raises Questions," NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams' "Carnival CEO Comes Under Congressional Heat" - Watch NBC Video here; South Florida Business Review's April Fool's Day: Carnival Will incorporate in the United States, NBC's "Would Your Cruise Have Fewer Problems if Americans Ran It?;" E-Travel Blackboard's US law firm spends $3 million to charter cruise ship;" NBC's "Family Seeks More Answers in Disappearance of Man From Cruise Ship;" Huffington's Post's "Paul Rossington, Missing Carnival Cruise Passenger, May Have Been Trying To Rescue Girlfriend Kristen Schroder;" Seattle Times' Taking a Hard Look at Cruise-Ship Problems:" CNN's "FBI to Review Honeymooner's 2005 Cruise Ship Death;" Boston Herald's "Murder, Crime Warnings in Nassau;" The Economic Times' "How Normal are Cruise Ship Mishaps Like Fires and Power Failures?; eTravel Blackboard (Australia)'s "Cruise Lawyer Says Bridge Being Unaware of Man Overboard Situations Should Not Happen;" The Slant's "Carnival is Taking on Water But Don't Abandon Ship;" KGW News Station (Oregon) Salem Cruise Passenger Missing and Presumed Drowned;" U.K. Mirror's What can cruise passengers expect from their own Bill of Rights?; Sun Sentinel's CLIA, "Cruise Operators Adopt Passenger Bill of Rights," Travel Weekly's "Cruise Lines Adopt First ‘Bill of Rights’ for Clients at Sea;" eTravel Blackboard's US Cruise Lawyer: "Cruise Ship Fires: When is Enough, Enough?;"  K-Talk Utah Radio (NBC) Malcolm Alvin's Malcolm Out Loud Show; eTravel Blackboard's "US Judge Changes Mind About Legal Jurisdiction;" Anderson Cooper AC 360 Keeping Them Honest - "Who's Keeping Cruise Passengers Safe?;" HuffPost Music Canada's "Sean Richard Bell, Manitoba Cruise Ship Musician, Arrested On Child Pornography Charges;" Florida Today's "Cruise Ship Crime Stats Aren't Smooth Sailing;" Florida Today's "Who's Working on the Ships You're Sailing Aboard?;" USA Today Watchdogs Urge Better Reporting of Cruise Ship Crime;" Chicago Tribune's Can You Trust the Cruise Lines' New Passenger 'Bill of Rights?; Miami Daily Business Review's "Plaintiffs Celebrate Ruling In Concordia Shipwreck;" e-Travel Blackboard's "National Lawyers Strike Suspends Concordia Schettino’s Trial;" New York Times' "Those Wordy Contracts We All So Quickly Accept;" Global Travel Industry News's "Cruise Line Bill of Rights - Trustworthy?;" Trusted Luxury Cruises' "Silversea Cruises: Silver Shadow Failed Inspection;" eTravel Blackboard's "US Lawyer Says Silversea’s Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection;" Alaska Dispatch's "Corporate Interests 4, Alaska Zero. Game Over?:;" Skift Travel's "Cruise Lines to Begin Disclosing All Onboard Crimes on Own Websites;" CNN's "Luxury Cruise Fails Surprise Health Inspection;" eTravel Blackboard's "US Senate Cruise Industry Hearing Reveals Cruise Crime is Hidden;" NBC News' "Luxury Cruise Line Vows Changes After Ship Fails CDC Inspection;" KOAA's "More Problems for Cruise Ships;" NBC News' "Lawmakers Turn Attention to Crime on Cruise Ships;" NBC 6's "Major Cruise Lines Begin Posting Crime Stats;" Miami Herald's "Report, Punish Crimes in Cruises:" Washington Post's "Will a New Law Force Cruise Lines to Better Report Onboard Crime?;" Yahoo Voices' "Are Cruise-Safety Concerns Justified? Bigger Ships, More Destinations, Limited Accountability - Should Passengers Think Twice?;" Coach Class - Travel for Real People's "Cruise Passenger Bill of Putative Rights;" Travel Weekly's "Cruise Editor's Bookmarks: Three Interesting Reads;" Wall Street Journal's "Reputation, Regulatory Issues Dog Cruise Industry;" Noticias 25 Internacionales' "Uno de los cruceros más lujosos del mundo no pasó la inspección sanitaria;" About Cruise Ship's "Disney Line Sexual Assault;" Lloyd's List "MLC: Cruiseship Employees Work Ever Longer Shifts;" Associated Press/ CBS "Carnival Cruise Lines Says 6-Year-Old Boy Drowned in Pool at Sea;" CNN's New Day Reports: "Costa Captain Says Not My Fault;" Travel Agent Central "Dawn Princess Hit by Electrical Fire, Guests Called to Muster Stations;" Huffington Post "Woman Overboard On Grand Princess Cruise Feared Dead;" Miami Herald "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public;" Wikipedia - "Carnival Cruise Lines;" WPTV-NBC "Law Requires Man Overboard Systems on Cruise Ships to Detect a Passenger Falling Overboard;"  Cay Compass "Critics Urge Caution on Cruise Port Deal;" Change.org "P&O Ferries: Install CCTV Cameras on Passenger Decks;" Tampa Bay Business Journal "Raising the Sunshine Skyway Could Open the Bay for Giant Cruise Ships;" This is Kent "A Mum is Forever;"  Global Travel Industry News "Royal Caribbean Cruise: Passenger overboard - Coast Guard Taking Over;" Daily Mail "Coast Guard Searches for Passenger Who Jumped Overboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas;" Lund University "Cruise Ship Passengers and Their Rights;" Vice "Cruising for a Bruising;" Cruise Week Who Will Keep CNN Honest?; ETB Travel News US lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean after injury to child.

In 2012, Jim appeared on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date. He also appeared on CNN's special "Cruise to Disaster" which explored the Concordia disaster.

Jim attended Duke University and graduated cum laude in 1980. He attended Tulane University School of Law, graduating in 1983 after taking Tulane’s internationally renowned admiralty curriculum.

Jim has experience regarding issues of cruise ship crime and sexual assault. Over the past ten years, he has represented over 1,000 clients including over 75 individuals who have been victimized on cruise ships, cruise excursions and ports of call. Six of Jim’s clients have testified before the United States Congress regarding cruise ship safety. Jim has handled the following cases in the past ten years: 

  • The case of Laurie Dishman, sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. Her case resulted in changes to the cruise industry and the introduction of the Cruise Ship Safety and Security Act of 2010.
  • The “Missing Honeymooner Case” involving the disappearance of George Smith IV of Greenwich Connecticut from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship. Jim represented Mr. Smith’s widow, Jennifer Hagel.
  • Over 75 sexual assault cases against women and children on cruise ships, resulting in many million and multi-million dollars settlements.
  • The 2006 Star Princess fire disaster. The cruise ship fire resulted in one hundred cabins being destroyed and the death of one passenger, Richard Liffridge. Jim represented Mr. Liffridge’s family in litigation against Princess Cruises in California.
  • Numerous cases involving serious injury and death of passengers and crew members aboard Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Jim is married to Lisa O’Neill who he met while they were undergraduates in college thirty years ago. Jim and Lisa are also law partners.

Watch 5 Years Later (Facebook video).

Lisa is also a Duke cum laude graduate, and attended the University of Florida School of Law in Gainesville, Florida. She served on Law Review as the Senior Articles Editor, won the prestigious Gertrude Brick Award, and graduated cum laude. Jim and Lisa work on all cases together.


In 1999, the firm created the web site CruiseLaw.com as an information resource for passengers and crew members worldwide. Here is what some publications are saying about Jim Walker:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"A Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" - Reuters.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

One of the nation's leading maritime attorneys - News 6 Orlando.

"Leading Miami Attorney" - Newsweek Magazine

"Leading Maritime Lawyer in Miami" - Arizona Republic / USA Today

". . . it is nice to see a lawyer with scruples, and one that is honest with them" - Port Canaveral Blog

"An Outspoken and Candid Maritime Attorney Who has Represented Some of the Highest Profile Cruise Plaintiffs in History" - Cruisemates

"Longtime Maritime Lawyer Who Represents Clients Suing Cruise Lines" - New York Times

"Internationally Renowned Maritime Lawyer and Cruise Safety Advocate" - Times of Malta

"Cruise companies are watched closely by Jim Walker of US-based maritime lawyers Walker and O'Neill" - New Zealand Herald.

"Man For the Other Team" - International Shipping Publication Tradewinds.

"Famous Miami Maritime Attorney" - CruiseNewser.

"Prominent Florida-Based Lawyer for Cruise Ship Passenger" - Staten Island Live.

"Leading U.S. Based Cruise Lawyer" - eTravel Blackboard (Australia).

"Prominent Miami Maritime Lawyer" - Travel Agent Central.

"Industry Watchdog" - FOX News and LexBlog

"King of anti-cruise tirades . . . his impressive background and litigation record against cruise lines must be taken seriously." - Travel Weekly.

"Perpetual Pain-In-The-Cruise-Lines-Neck Jim Walker" - Gadling.

"A well-known thorn in the side of cruise lines" - Cruising Done Right (travel agent publication). 

Lexblog names Cruise Law News "Blog of the Year" writing: ". . . no attorney’s passion shows through more than Jim Walker’s in his blog, Cruise Law News. Not only is he an advocate for cruise passengers, but also a fervent watchdog for the industry as a whole. His 2014 included, among a multitude of accomplishments, traveling to Washingto, DC to back Senator Rockefeller’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act and forcing government officials in the Bahamas to have to answer to their ranking on the Top 10 worst destinations."

Jim is the author of Cruise Law News - described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.

Jim writes the "authoritative cruise blog" - Sydney Morning Herald.

"Cruise Law News, published by Attorney Jim Walker, has blown the doors off the cruise industry and has grown to be one the most widely read digital publications in the law." 

The U.K. Metro newspaper refers to Jim as the "Devil of Cruise Reporting."

Prominent Miami-based maritime lawyer - Engle International.

Respected Miami-based maritime lawyer - eGlobal Travel Media. 

LexBlog says "Walker is the world’s leading reporter on deaths, injuries, and safety matters relating to the cruise industry. Via his blog, he not only reports the news, but is the de facto cruise industry watchdog." 

Professional Associations

  • Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar (former member)
  • Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Education

  • Kent School, Kent Connecticut 1976
  • Duke University, Durham North Carolina 1980
  • Tulane School of Law, New Orleans Louisiana 1983

Bar Admissions

  • Florida Bar Association
  • Louisiana Bar Association (not active)
  • United States District Courts, Eastern District of Louisiana and Southern District of Florida

Media, Television, Radio, Magazines and Newspapers


Jim and his clients have been featured on television, cable news and radio shows, as well as in documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles.

ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, 20/20, 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, U.K.'s Telegraph, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, U.K. Mirror, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen, CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Open Secrets organization, Queerty, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, Gadling, FOX Business, Slate Magazine, ABA Journal, Australia's The Age, Attorney at Law Magazine, Huffington Post, U.K.'s Daily Mail, BBC, Freeport (Bahamas) News, Haaretz, Trip Advisor, Wikipedia, Palm Beach Post, India Times, E Turbo News, Global Travel News, Comunidade News (Brazil), Canada's CTV, OutFront with CNN's Erin Burnett, Slate, The Daily, London's Financial Times, Newsweek Magazine, Newsweek's The Daily Beast Blog, Fund Web, Reuters, Consumer Affairs, Australia's Herald Sun, Canada's NewsTalk 1010 Radio, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Tampa Bay Business Journal, Perez Hilton, Business Insider, Greenwich Magazine, Herald Sun, CNN Money, the Australian newspaper, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times, Maritime Executive, Businessweek, Bloomberg, Alaska Dispatch, Minnesota Post, Virgin Islands Daily News, Arizona Republic, Trip Advisor, Daily Kos, Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper, Antigua Observer, N.Y. Daily News, U.K.'s Daily Mail, UPI, Inquisitr, Christian Post, KTIC Radio, Cordova Times, Bloomberg News, Business Insider, Times of Malta, CNN Opinion, Wall Street Journal Blog. Newsday, CBC Radio (Canada), American Public Media Market Place, WGN Radio (Chicago) Chicago Tribune, WWL Radio (Miami), CNBC Squawk on the Street, WIOD Radio (Miami) and the Associated Press have all covered Jim’s cases and his client's causes.

Watch Jim on ABC's 20/20 program in January 2012 about the Costa Concordia disaster:

Watch Jim on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Seas" in March 2012 about cruise ship disappearances: