Cruise Law News Sneaks into "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014"

Carnival Cruise Miami LawyerToday I was excited to read that Cruise Law News has been picked as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014" by the premier law publication Above the Law.

Admittedly, we were the twelfth and last pick, but beggars can't be choosers. Here the write up:

No attorney’s passion shows through more than that of Jim Walker. Not only is Walker an advocate for cruise passengers, but a fervent watchdog for the industry as a whole. His 2014 included, among a multitude of accomplishments, traveling to Washington, D.C., to back Senator Rockefeller’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act and forcing government officials in the Bahamas to answer to their ranking on hitting the Top 10 worst destinations. If you’re planning to take a cruise in 2015, this is a blog you cannot miss.

Here are the other selections: The Art Law ReportTrademarkologyInside PrivacyCanna Law BlogEnergy and the LawThe D & O DiaryAll About Advertising LawBeLabor The PointAuto Industry Law Blog, Retail Law Advisor, and Cady Bar the Door.

 

Who's the Best Cruise Blogger?

I returned from a two week vacation last week to find that our blog was picked as one of the top 20 cruise blogs by readers of USA TODAY.

The newspaper and "10 Best" are now asking the public to pick the best blog out of this group.  At the end of the voting on July 11th, a "top 10" list will be published.

You can see the listing here.  

Best Cruise BlogI have picked my top cruise bloggers over the years and have listed the most popular cruise bloggers in terms of traffic.

The USA TODAY top 20 list includes many of the bloggers who I have picked in the past: Chris Cruise, Captain Greybeard, CruiseMates, Expert Cruiser, Peter Knego's Decked (Maritime Matters)(which is really outstanding), and Cruise Maven.

At the moment, Carnival Cruise Director John Heald is the top vote receiver. 

I was surprised that this blog made the list. The other 19 bloggers promote the cruise industry and never criticize it. Our motto, on the other hand, is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." 

The voting continues for the next three weeks.  You can vote once everyday.   

Vote here.

Thanks!

An Irreverent Look at the Top 10 Most Popular Law Blogs

What are the top law blogs? I suppose it depends on who you ask. Everyone has an opinion, at least lawyers who have blogs do.  

I'm listing the supposedly most popular law blogs based on supposedly objective criteria, using the Alexa ranking system which ranks blogs and websites based primarily on popularity. How many people actually click on the site, view a number of pages and actually stay for a while? 

Alexa ranks over 30,000,000 sites. Alexa assigns a numerical ranking to each website. The most popular sites have the lowest numbers. 

Google is ranked number 1, Facebook is number 2, and so forth. The highest ranked stand-alone law blog is ranked around 28,000. The lowest ranked blog is ranked over 20,000,000. If you're a law blogger and ranked under Top Law Blogs - Blah, Blah, Blah200,000, your blog is popular. 

If your ranking is over 1,000,000, sorry to tell you. No one is reading your blog. If you are in the 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 category, I suggest giving up.

If you are interested in seeing your site's ranking, go to the Alexa website and click on the "Toolbar" link at the top to download.

The top 10 blogs which I listed below are mostly ranked 100,000 or lower. They are popular and widely read. I listed their rankings as of the date of this publication. I have also mentioned whether they are advertising (desperate) or soliciting money (truly desperate). I have tried to identify the primary editor or writer.

10. SCOTUS (107,715) (advertising - Bloomberg Law) Two dozen people smarter than me writing minutia about Supreme Court decisions. Super popular when the Supremes are publishing cases.

9.  Patently O (105,835) (advertising) Law professors writing about patents. I remember why I hated law school. 

8.  China Law Blog (100,256) The blog of Seattle lawyer, Dan Harris, of the Harris Moure law firm. Why isn't it also written in Chinese?

7.  Volokh Conspiracy (92,779) (advertising) A butt-ugly site written by two dozen brainiac professors who need to get laid.  I'm not sure who reads this erudite stuff.  It recently moved to the Washington Post. 

6.  Althouse (78,079) (advertising) (solicits money) I don't get this site.  A law professor, Ann Althouse, Top Law Blogswrites and posts photos and videos.  She shares a photo of the side of her head. Random. Quirky. 

5.  Lawyerist (65,914) (heavy advertising) A nice site, mostly it seems written by Sam Glover about law practice technology, management, and marketing, also offering services to build web sites, since 2007.

4.  Food Safety News (60,812) This is one of the truly amazing law blogs by Seattle lawyer Bill Mahler who handles food poisoning cases. He is a great guy and a super lawyer. He surrounds himself with a very talented team to publish this really good stuff.

3. Cruise Law News (59,871) My blog Cruise Law News.  "Everything the Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know" is our motto. "Why do I want to know that?" most people may be thinking.

2.  Legal Insurrection (45,434) (incredibly heavy advertising)(solicits money)(multiple writers) A law professor at Cornell oversees this gaudy conservative blog. Annoying, bizarre banner ads, like this lady-in-the-tight-dress Google ad which links to a rant against President Obama. Go figure. 

1.  Above the Law (28,096) (advertising) (multiple editors and writers) This number one law blog caters to big firm news, in-house counsel at major corporations, law school rankings and issues of largely no relevance to most lawyers' practices. Typical topics involve new partners at top 10 national firms, salaries in New York, and who'll be the next Supreme Court clerks. I suppose first year associates at Skadden Arps gossip about these important issues over their 15 minute lunches at their desks? 

A bizarre group of blogs no doubt.

Did I leave anyone out? 

 

Photo Credit Top:   lawyerfacts.biz

Top 10 Most Popular Cruise Blogs & Websites for 2013

Two years ago, I published my personal choice of what I considered to be the top cruise blogs. It was mostly a subjective choice.

This year, I started assembling the top blogs again. But I decided to rank the "top" blogs with some type of objective criteria. I chose to use the Alexa ranking system which ranks blogs and websites primarily based on popularity. No matter how attractive the website may appear or how interesting or nice the publisher may be, are people really clicking on the blog, reading a number of pages and staying on the site for a while?

Alexa assigns a numerical ranking to websites.  The most popular sites have the lowest numbers. Cruise ShipGoogle is ranked number 1, Facebook is number 2 and so forth. If you are a blogger or own a cruise website and you are ranked under 250,000, you are doing a heck of a good job. There are literally tens of millions of blogs and websites out there.

If you are interested in seeing your site's ranking, go to the Alexa website and click on the "Toolbar" link at the top to download.    

In making my top 10 list, I focused on blogs which write primarily about cruising. I excluded cruise blogs which use a sub-domain of a website such as a large newspaper. This eliminated CruiseLog, because it is published under the USA Today domain, and eliminated Captain GreyBeard because his blog is published under the domain of the newspaper giant Mirror in the U.K. 

My top blog list doesn't include the websites of the cruise lines themselves. Cruise articles which are published under general travel sites or maritime publications such as the popular Fodors, Travel Pulse, Maritime Executive or gCaptain were excluded, although I would include them all if I were listing top travel and maritime web pages.      

So with that is mind, here are the top 10 most popular cruise blogs, in reverse order. I've included the Alexa ranking as of the time of this publication.

Maritime Matters10. Maritime Matters: (510,733) If I had to pick one cruise blog to read, it would be Martin Cox's Maritime Matters. It covers the range of cruising from the christening of the ship to major casualties. It contains a historical perspective of the cruise industry. It has fantastic photographs of ships old and new, interesting stories, and fantastic articles from Peter Knego. I reviewed it before. I said that it has "the perfect balance of current cruise news coupled with fascinating historical chronicles of the cruise industry."  The best websites are not always the most popular, so I'm glad that this class act made the top 10.   

RCL Blog9. RCL Blog: (398,359) The Royal Caribbean Blog describes itself as "an unofficial fan blog written for other fans of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line."  It's a fan site so it is never critical of this cruise line which I criticize often. But it is full of articles and photographs which cruise fans will love. It covers the "deliver the wow" cruise line like a hawk. It is accepted by Google News as an official news site so you will find articles by this site about Royal Caribbean easily on Cruise Addictsinternet searches.  

8. Cruise Addicts: (308,946) I don't know a lot about the people who operate this popular site, but it has the number 8 ranking for cruise website and blogs. Its a smaller version of Cruise Critic and Cruise Mates and has the potential to become much more popular if it starts writing its own stories and begins to better utilize cruise ship photographs. I voted Cruise Addicts number 9 for my favorite cruise websites 2 years ago.   

Cruise Fever7. Cruise Fever: (295,827) Two and one-half years old, Cruise Fever provides cruise news, tips, photos, web cams, and reviews to help makes cruisers make the most of their cruise vacation. Of course it also advertises cruise deals. It is active on Twitter and has a popular Facebook page. Its popularity has risen steadily over the last couple of years.Cruise Industry News

6. Cruise Industry News: (213,488)  This is a popular website with a ton of stories about the cruise industry. Never gossipy or controversial, its strictly the facts.  Its motto is "number 1 in industry reporting." It has more of a focus on shipbuilding, business stories, industry news and less about the lighter side of cruising. It has added photos of ships and ports of call. It publishes a slick magazine called Cruise Industry News with a European feel to it. It has the worse Twitter logo possible.

CLIA5. CLIA's "Cruising. It's All about You:" (208,733) This is the official site of the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA") and contains the blog of CLIA's CEO Chrsitine Duffy. I have called it the cruise lines' "Pravda" after the official newspaper of communist Russia. It's articles are carefully written by the cruise industry's public relations people to present a positive and completely unrealistic image of the cruise industry. Its filled with half-truths and propaganda that even Stalin would be proud of.    

Cruise Currents4. Cruise Currents: (157,757) This is the latest blog from cruise fan and cruise website prodigy Mike Faust. Two years ago when he was 15, I selected  his cruise website as one of the top cruise sites and told everyone to watch out for this fellow. Still in high school, Mike changed the name of his blog from "Mikey's Cruise Blog" to the very slick sounding and appearing "Cruise Currents." He is not even old enough to cruise by himself but he has taken the cruise community over by storm. Next year, he will CruiseMates pass Cruise Mates and me as the most popular cruise site behind Cruise Critic.   

3. Cruise Mates: (118,481) A very popular and long term cruise travel guide, community and message board somewhat like Cruise Critic but on a smaller scale. CruiseMates contains tons of information and has knowledgeable and pleasant bloggers.  Paul Motter is the face of the community.  

Cruise Law News2. Cruise Law News: (79,104) I know, its tacky to include yourself in a top 10 list. But I have an excuse. I'm a lawyer and we're suppose to have out-of-control egos aren't we? I remember when I started this blog in September 2009. I was excited to have less than 5,000 people a month read my articles. This year over 1,000,000 different people have already read well over 3,500,000 pages of our blog. Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." You either love us or hate us.     

1. Cruise Critic: (9,052) As I said 2 years ago, this cruise community is a real juggernaut. It has by far the most members and the most hard core cruise fans. A great place to read the messages on the Cruise Critic boards from passengers still on the cruise ship and first learn of what will eventually be covered by the major newspapers. On the down-side, it seems like the least diversified place on the planet. Its message boards often into flame wars, and a dissenting opinion is often ridiculed. The usual comment from a Cruise Critic fan left on my blog is something like "cruise ship ambulance chaser!" or "feed the lawyers to the sharks!" I love the attention (for the record sharks don't eat us out of professional courtesy). Behind Google and Facebook, Cruise Critic directs the most people to my blog on a daily basis.

Okay, that's the top 10 numerical list.  Have I left out a higher ranked cruise blog or site?  If so, please let me know.  

Season's Greetings!

 

Logo credits: The logos above are the Twitter avatars owned by the respective entities named above. 

Cruise Law News' Four Year Anniversary: Have You Read Our Stories?

This week marks the 4th year anniversary of starting my blog Cruise Law News (CLN). 

I've written 1,585 articles, which averages out to be over one per day. We have received over 4,700 comments to our articles, mostly from U.S. readers. Google Analytics tell us over 1,000,000 different people have read over 3,500,000 pages of our blog in the last 12 months. The blog has come a long way since September 2009 when barely 5,000 people read CLN.

According to the AVVO ranking system, CLN is currently ranked the 10th most popular law blog in the U.S. Of the nine blogs more popular than ours, five are written by law professors and four are for-profit, monetized blogs which accept advertising which you will never see here. So you can make the Cruise Law News - Jim Walker Miamiargument that CLN is the most popular law blog written by one lawyer who actually practices law.

CLN reached an international audience when I started my Cruise Law News Facebook page last year and began posting the CLN articles on Facebook. The result has been fantastic. Around 70,000 fans follow us on Facebook. We are growing exponentially. We have more readers whose languages are primarily non-English than English readers.

The top countries where our CLN Facebook followers are from are India, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and then the U.S. The next five most popular countries are Turkey, Romania, Croatia, Italy and Chile.    

The stories we cover here on CLN are genuine, dramatic and often disturbing. They are not fiction.

Several years ago, Kevin O'Keefe, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog, which designed and hosts our blog, came to Miami to meet some of the Miami bloggers who are part of his network. During dinner, O'Keefe asked me why I liked to blog. Instantly I told him that a half-dozen of my clients have testified before Congressional committees in Washington D.C. about being victimized on cruise ships. Their stories, about ship fires, loved ones lost at sea, and cruise crime, are riveting. Their causes deserved a larger audience. And I wanted to tell their compelling stories and promote their causes on a national and international basis.

CLN permits me to do that. Our firm and our blog have been mentioned in over one-hundred newspapers, cable news stations, radio shows, television programs and documentaries this year alone. CLN has taken my client's causes around the world to places I have never been to before, like India, Serbia, Croatia, Peru and Venezuela.     

So why has Cruise Law News been so successful you may ask?

In Jonas Sachs' book Winning the Story Wars, the author explains that those who tell the best stories will be successful. Sachs defines "best" as those authentic stories which inspire compassion and hope and bring about positive social change.

Our stories are about the little man taking on the big corporation, such as $500-a-month cruise employees from India working over 360 hours a month standing up to the abuses of multi-national companies based here in Miami. We write about grass roots victims' groups enacting legislation over the fierce opposition and dirty tricks of huge, billion-dollar tax-avoiding cruise corporations.  Many of our stories are about women, both passengers and crew, taking on the male-dominated cruise industry.

There are many social media experts who say that the key to a successful blog is to consistently and genuinely demonstrate passion about an issue. That's true. But it's not enough. Whether your blog sells a product or promotes a cause, an author needs a compelling story to tell.

That's where I have a distinct advantage over other lawyers and bloggers. I realize that the stories here on CLN are not mine. I am just a storyteller. The stories are the only reason my articles are widely read and CLN is closely followed. The stories are of our clients and friends who have endured unimaginable events while cruising, of all things. Stories like being sexually assaulted during cruise vacations, or losing a parent or a spouse or a child on the high seas.  And in a time of despair and desperation, many of these nice people face corporate deceit or heartless indifference of the worst kind. These stories must be told.

Happy Birthday: Cruise Law Celebrates 4 Years on Twitter!

Today marks the 4th year Cruise Law has been on Twitter.  Check out our page here. Over 10,000 tweets and over 10,000 followers later, it has been a fun four years.  Tweeting is just micro-blogging in 140 characters and led me to create this blog Cruise Law News.

If you are not on Twitter you should be. It has led me to meet literally thousands of lawyers, travel agents, cruise industry people, journalists, travelers and crew members around the world.  Lots of news about the cruise industry breaks on Twitter before the mainstream media knows what's going on.

Speaking of social media, we have been busy in the world of cruise law news this year. The Carnival Triumph fire and the "ensuing cruise from hell" were the latest cruise fiascos which focused the world on the unregulated foreign-flagged cruise industry.

Jim Walker Cruise Law News BlogOur firm and this blog were featured in over fifty television, cable news, & radio shows and internet, magazine and newspaper articles. Take a look here at a listing of some here of the programs and articles.

Cruise Law News (CLN), now over 3 years old, remains a top 10 law blog in terms of popularity. It is currently ranked #9 per the Alexa popularity rankings. The 8 law blogs ahead of us consist of 6 blogs which are commercial sites or are run by law professors. There's only one other law blog operated by a full time lawyer (China Law Blog) ahead of us. So we are the #2 law blog in the U.S. and Canada written by a full time lawyer.

Last month in the 28 days of February, readers visited some 415,960 pages of this blog.  If we keep this pace up, we are approaching 5,000,000 page views a year!   

Our Facebook page is booming, with over 45,000 likes. It is by far the most popular page by a law firm on Facebook.   

Thanks for following us.  If you have a question or want us to cover a particular issue or story, contact me: jim@cruiselaw.com

Guest Blog - "A Fresh Perspective"

The following is a guest blog by fellow lawyer Charles Gourlis who works on cases with us against the cruise lines. Charlie is a bright, hard working fellow. We are glad to have him on our side.

First of all, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to Jim Walker for allowing me to guest blog on Cruise Law News. CLN is such an important resource for cruisers, crew members, the media, and the general public because it disseminates important stories about the cruise industry that often fly under the radar.

I’ve worked alongside Jim and his partners, Lisa O’Neill and Jonathan Aronson, a year-and-a-half and it still amazes me that some crew members receive such horrible medical care from the cruise lines. Some crew members receive adequate treatment, but many do not despite the maritime Charles Gourlis law's requirement that cruise lines treat their employees as if they were their own children. 

What amazes me most is that in the great majority of cases, the cruise lines seem to lose track of their own employees. They simply let their injured crew members “fall through the cracks.” Regardless of whether the cruise line's medical departments are simply overwhelmed and need to hire more personnel to correct the problem, it is a fact that many injured crew members do not receive the prompt, adequate, and complete medical care that they need and are entitled to under the law.

It seems like the case that the cruise lines’ neglect of their injured crew members is rarely benign. I’ve witnessed crew member horror stories that are not reported on CLN which appear nothing less than malicious in nature.

Crew members from Jamaica, Honduras, India, and other nations sign on to work for the cruise lines because they hope for a better life. They sign up for the chance to better their lives, travel the world, and expand their horizons. None of them expect to get injured. I would venture to say that none of them expect to be abandoned back at home if and when they do become injured.

Crew members place their trust in unseen corporate suits half a world away and hope for the best. When they arrive in our offices with broken backs or out-of-control hypertensive, they all say the same thing: How can the "Company" abandon me after I have worked so hard and for so long? Doesn't the Company care?

This reaction is understandable given the backgrounds of most crew members we represent. Most come from societies where a person’s word is their bond.  Most injured crew members don’t want to sue their employers; they just want to get healthy again.

Crew members generally idolize the “Company” in a way that most Americans can’t relate to. They sue only as a last resort. Which begs the question: given the reserve of goodwill built up in most crew members, why is it so difficult for the cruise lines to provide crew members with prompt, adequate, and complete medical care?

I would not have a job if the cruise lines treated their employees in the same way that they want to be treated. From what I have seen so far, it looks like I will be handling cases against cruise lines for a long time.

I'll continue to guest blog from time to time when work permits. Please leave your comments and questions below. I’ll be happy to respond.

Cruise Law News - The Most Popular Cruise Law and Maritime Personal Injury Blog in the U.S.

According to AVVO which ranks the popularity of law blogs, Cruise Law News (CLN) is currently the 9th most popular law blog in the U.S.  You can read the list (updated daily) here.  The list does not pretend to be a compilation of the "best" blogs.  It is based primarily on the number of readers and the number of pages read for each blog, if I understand correctly how AVVO works.

Of the eight blogs ahead of CLN, four of the blogs are written by law professors (Legal Insurrection, Althouse, Law Professors Blog Network, and the Volokh Conspiracy).  Three other blogs are commercial (accepting advertising) types (Lawyernomics, Above the Law, and Lawyerist). There is only one blog ahead of us which is written by a lawyer who actually practices law full time, China Blog,Cruise Law News Blog - Jim Walker - Miami Lawyer which is authored by Seattle attorney Dan Harris.  

That makes our blog the most widely read blog about our practice areas - cruise law and maritime personal injury law - in the U.S. Around 300,000 pages of CLN are read a month. We expect at the end of this year there to be well over 3,000,000 pages of CLN read just this year alone. 

Our Cruise Law News facebook page is the most popular facebook page for a lawyer and our Twitter feed is also popular. 

Being a widely read blog is admittedly a goal of CLN. The purpose of our blog is to educate the public about "everything cruise lines don't want you to know." There are a lot of problems, like sexual assault of women, molestation of children, and abuse of crew members, that cruise lines try and keep secret. 

Thanks for reading our blog, and thanks for sending us tips about things that happen on cruise ships which the Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans prefer the public not to know.

 

If you want to track the popularity of websites and blogs, download the Alexa toolbar.  Its simple and takes less than 30 seconds.

"Maritime Matters" - A Cruise Blog That You Must Read!

I'm not always right.

Despite the ego that I have grown to compete in the dog-eat-dog world of cruise line litigation against Fortune 200 cruise corporations in Miami Florida, every day I realize that I, too, make errors of perception, of judgment, and of acknowledgment.

Last year, I wrote an article about what I thought were the "top 12 best cruise blogs."  Boy did I make a major mistake.  I omitted one of the best cruise line blogs around. 

Peter Knego - Martin Cox - Maritime Matters Martin Cox's "Maritime Matters" is brilliant.

It has the perfect balance of current cruise news coupled with fascinating historical chronicles of the cruise industry.

What peaked my interest into publisher Mr. Cox's extraordinary website were the recent and utterly fascinating stories of co-editor Peter Knego's Journey to Giglio and his trip to explore the first and only atomic cruise ship the N/S SAVANNAH. The photography, information and perspective are rather amazing.

Take a minute, leave my blog of admittedly depressing stories of crimes against cruise passengers and mistreatment of crew members and other bad cruise line news. Travel through Maritime Matters' entertaining world of cruise lines, past and future.

Cruise Law News' grade of Maritime Matters?  A+

 

Photo credit: Peter Knego

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

A couple of my friends on Twitter asked me about a maritime law blog in Miami which tweets under the Twitter handle @cruiseshiplaw. They were confused whether it was my blog, because it looked strikingly just like mine and had a similar name.

I clicked on the blog and, yes, it looks pretty much just like mine. A big white cruise ship in the upper right corner and the same blue theme.

Its a blog by my main competitor for cruise line clients. Very good lawyers no doubt.  But why rip off my design?  

IJim Walker Cruise Law News Blog - Miami Florida Law Blog have an approach in life and in my blog to give credit where credit is due. So when I write about maritime lawyers in Miami winning cases against the cruise lines I credit them by name.

But this blog not only copied my design but actually writes about our cases.  Look to the right and you can see the article "Carnival Cruise Lines May Be Liable For Child's Death." That's a precedent setting case against Carnival where we recently prevailed in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal, which we wrote about earlier this month.

Ah another law firm sponging, mooching, free-loading and otherwise riding on our coattails.

No worries.

I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

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?

Cruise Law News Picked As One Of "Three Unique Cruise Websites Worth A Look"

I received a nice compliment this week when a top travel blogger, Chris Owen, picked Cruise Law News as one of "Three Unique Cruise Websites Worth A Look."

Chris is a popular travel expert who writes for Gadling and his own blog Chris Cruises - Inside Cruise Vacatioms." 

Chris writes:

"There are a lot of web sites around with cruise information. The king daddy of all is probably Cruise Critic, with tens of thousands of members, ship reviews that even offers the ability to price cruises from a variety of sources, a great first step before contacting a travel agent for serious planning. USA Today brings the power of a major international publication to cruise information with Gene Sloan at the helm covering breaking news alike a blanket. But some smaller, lesser-known sites are making a big impact with unique content worth a look, if not a bookmark, free subscription and daily visit."

Chris' first pick is Phil Reimer’s Ports and Bows. Mr. Reimer is the cruise expert for newspapers in Canada.  I have to check him out.

Number 2 is Doug Parker’s Cruise Radio.  Doug hosts a fast paced and popular weekly Internet cruise radio broadcast with co-host Matt Basford.  These guys have invited me on their show a couple of times when they want to tell their lawyer jokes.

I'm last of the three, but beggars can't be choosers.  Here's Chris' write up of my blog:

"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."

Thanks for the mention Chris!  This is the first time in many years anyone has said that I'm sober . . . 

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   

I'll Take a Compliment Wherever I Can Get One

When I created Cruise Law News back in September 2009, my goal was to raise awareness of safety issues on cruise ships.  I wanted my articles to be interesting and, perhaps, provocative in order to spark debate about the cruise industry with the goal of making cruising safer for both passengers and crew. 

Back then I really didn't care (and still don't today) whether readers agree or disagree with me.  I care only that you have an opinion about issues like cruise ship crimes, people who vanish at sea, and exploitation of foreign crewmembers.  These are dramatic issues and deserve an energetic debate.

My thought process about cruise issues has changed over the years.  Some of my opinions have hardened, while other opinions have softened.  I especially value the dialogue that I has developed with the "enemy" - those readers of my blog "in the industry" - cruise fans, cruise employees and travel agents. Not many cruise fans agree with me, but that's not my goal. 

One thing I do like tracking is the number of people who write hate mail.  I know that's a weird thing to do.  The most hate mail comes after I write or appear on TV about crimes on cruise ships or in ports of call. It's the one subject that freaks travel agents out.      

It's easy to spot the cruise line shills because they leave their IP address when they comment. I can't tell who reads my blogs but if you leave a comment here's a secret - I can see the IP address of your server.  Its funny when an "anonymous" reader from Carnival or Royal Caribbean flames me (yes it happens).  I know that I am on target.  

Negative emails to me outnumber positive ones by a 3 to 1 ratio.  Few people write just to say "good job, have a nice day."  I find that many people in life are primarily motivated by anger when their interests are being challenged. If someone is going to take the time to write me, they are usually angry about something I wrote or said about their cruise line or their business of selling cruises.  They are going to let me know about it.    

But today I read a nice article about my blog from the cruise blog "Ship Detective - Cruise Travel News & Commentary."  I don't know the people at this blog. But they seem to understand the point of Cruise Law News better than anyone else: 

"I don’t always agree with Mr. Walker’s views but of course that’s not the point. Cruise Law News highlights passenger safety and reminds us of the realities of cruising."

Thanks Ship Detective.  You have precisely articulated the purpose of my little blog. For that I am appreciative.

 

Here's the article: 

"As much as I avoid listening to attorneys who advertise or promote themselves publicly, I did subscribe to the Cruise Law News feed, published by Jim Walker, a maritime attorney based in Miami. I didn’t want to like this guy, Jim Walker, and in my mind labeled him an opportunist lawyer in-search-of business.

Now I’m feeling a bit of shame for not giving Mr. Walker the benefit of the doubt, instead slapping a negative label on him as a guy who wanted to dramatize every maritime incident just to stir the pot. After a few months of reading his posts, I found Mr. Walker to be level-headed, even-tempered and he encourages cruise ship passengers to question authority. The commentary is informative, sometimes dramatic, and applicable to the culture of cruising - something we highlight considerably on our website. I don’t always agree with Mr. Walker’s views but of course that’s not the point. Cruise Law News highlights passenger safety and reminds us of the realities of cruising.

Thank you Mr. Walker for your valuable insight. Your posts keep track of all the legal goings-on in the cruise industry and helps me tremendously with my daily search for cruise news.

So readers, stay informed and check-out the Cruise Law News blog. Knowledge is power!

Happy Cruising!"

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.     

Coming Soon, My New Blog: "Maritime Lawyer"

After publishing Cruise Law News for the past two and one-half years, I decided to create a second blog: "Maritime Lawyer."   It will cover maritime issues and events which don't involve cruise ships.  I registered MaritimeLawyer.com long, long ago and will be using that domain for the new blog.

My friends at LexBlog are going to create and host the new blog. The LexBlog people created this blog. It has been far more successful and influential than I ever dreamed possible.  Per Alexa, Cruise Law News (CLN) is ranked number 12 in the U.S. / Canada in terms of popularity of law blogs. There is only one other law blog published by a practicing lawyer (another LexBlog client, China Law Blog) ahead of CLN in terms of popularity (for what that's worth).

Maritime Disasters: Cruise Ship Fires, Crashes, Collisions, CapsizingsThis year alone, CLN has been cited by a diverse group of media organizations, from tabloid bloggers like Perez Hilton to serious journalists like the reporters at the Wall Street Journal, PBS and Newsweek.  CLN has led me to appearing on CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett, ABC's 20/20, NOVA, BBC Radio and Australia's Dateline in just the last three months.  Our articles range from serious investigations into news the cruise line don't want you to know, to mundane legal issues about cruise law, to the bizarre, odd & weird things that happen on cruise ships.

My new blog will take a look into the larger world of maritime law of which cruise law is a small part.  If the story involves a cruise ship, you will find it on CLN.  But if a tugboat, tanker, trawler, bulk carrier, sailboat, yacht or fishing boat is involved, Maritime Lawyer will cover the story. 

I will be also posting my maritime articles on a new Maritime Lawyer facebook page.  This will be the first article posted on that new page.  I have 6 "likes" so far on the facebook page; pretty pitiful. Drop by, "like" us, and post a comment.

Let us know what type of maritime stories you want us to cover . . . .

Thanks!    

Who's Reading Cruise Law News?

One of the interesting things about having a website or blog is that it is easy to see how many people are clicking on your site and reading your stuff.

Google Analytics is an easy (and free) program that lets me see how many people visit Cruise Law News, how long they stay and how many pages they look at.  It interesting to see where the readers are based and what page they look at.  

The analytics program has been around for years. 

For the first four months of this year, 392,335 unique visitors have made 470,053 visits and looked at 1,385,586 pages.  The Costa Concordia disaster brought in a number of new readers. 

Costa Concordia Cruise DisasterAll types of statistics are available.  One of the more interesting statistics is how many people are reading Cruise Law News blog on a regular basis as opposed to randomly appearing from search engine results and quickly leaving.

22,904 people have read the blog 9 or more times in the last four months.  So I have a small town of people who are reading it over 2 times a month.  

The most interesting statistic is that 2,296 people have each read Cruise Law News over 200 times since the beginning of the year.  That's more than once a day for the past four month. Many leave comments or call or email me with tips for stories. 

I'd like to think that Cruise Law News is providing information and a perspective that you can't anywhere else.  Maybe, maybe not.  Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know . . . " 

If you are a daily reader, take a moment and leave a comment about what you like (and dislike) about the blog. Are there topics about the cruise industry which I am overlooking?  Are there regular readers who would like to write a guest blog? 

Be sure to subscribe by entering your email address in the box at the left, or sign up for our RSS feed. Like our facebook page too.

Thanks for reading! 

Royal Caribbean President's Email Blast Insults Crime Victims

Yesterday one of my clients, who I will call Jane Doe, contacted me after receiving an unsolicited email from the President of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Adam Goldstein.

The e-mail addressed her by her first name.  It seemed to be personalized to her.  It recognized her as a past customer and contained statements like:

"At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history Royal Caribbean Cruises  - Adam Goldstein illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships."  

President Goldstein's email outraged Jane Doe.   You see, she had just returned home with her young daughter who had been raped on President Goldstein's cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.  

Goldstein's unsolicited email to a rape victim's mom had nothing to do with the humiliating shipboard rape suffered by Jane Doe's daughter, one of many rapes of children on the Royal Caribbean fleet over the years.  Instead, it was part of this cruise line's media campaign to try and distance itself from the negative fall out following the deadly Costa Concordia disaster.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line making such public statements following the Concordia crash.  You can watch Royal Caribbean's slick video touting the safety of cruising here.  President Goldstein's blog is here.  "Safety is in our DNA."  "Cruising is the safest form of transportation."  "The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority."  Royal Caribbean covered all of the cruise industry's talking points in its video, the president's blog and its e-mail blast below.    

Of course, in truth, Goldstein's email was not a personalized message to Jane Doe.  He does not know her from the man in the moon, even though her daughter was raped on the cruise line's showpiece megaship and the biggest cruise ship in the world. 

Royal Caribbean spammed Goldstein's email to every single family who had sailed with them.  This was an intentional and reckless stunt, considering that hundreds of women and children have reportedly been sexually assaulted during Royal Caribbean cruises over the years.  Certainly, the cruise line knew that its former customers who are victims of crime, and whose names remain in its customer database, would feel salt being poured into their wounds upon reading Goldstein's email in their personal email accounts.      

Insensitive & thoughtless, if not outrageous?   Definitely.  But Goldstein is not thinking of his customer's feelings.  He is motivated by his cruise line's bottom line.  He wants to reassure his customers that it is safe to return to cruising, whether that is true or not. 

This is hardly the first time this has happened.

In 2006, one of my clients, Laurie Dishman (photo right), was brutally raped by a part time Royal Caribbean security guard with a Royal Caribbean Crime Victim Laurie Dishman prior record of sexually harassing passengers.   She retained us to represent her.  I sent a handful of letters to President Goldstein, asking for our client's medical records, her statement, and the name and address of the Royal Caribbean employee who raped Laurie.  We received nothing in response.  Goldstein ignored us.

The only things Laurie initially received from Royal Caribbean were unsolicited emails inviting Laurie to return for another "cruise of a lifetime" on a Royal Caribbean ship.  The emails continued for over a year.  Each email popping into her computer's email in-box took Laurie back to the scene of the crime and reactivated a sense of panic and stress.  It was only after a half dozen letters of protest from us, and a Congressional investigation into the crime initiated by Laurie's Congresswoman in 2007, that the cruise line scrubbed her from its marketing database.

We pleaded for Royal Caribbean to implement a system to remove a passenger's information from the company's marketing database whenever a passenger was raped, killed or lost a loved one overboard during a cruise.  Believe me, cruise vacationers don't want promotional brochures in their mail boxes after a family member has been raped or lost at sea.    

It looks like Royal Caribbean ignored that request too. 

President Goldstein's blog talks in grandiose terms about the Costa Concordia crash being a "defining moment" for the cruise industry.  He promises a renewed commitment to passenger safety.  Let's hope that's true. 

But when a cruise line president sends an e-mail blast to the mother of a child raped during a cruise, you wonder whether cruise line executives like Goldstein really get it.   

 

Photo credits:

Adam Goldstein - Royal Caribbean Flickr page

Laurie Dishman - Sacramento Bee

 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN EMAILS ADAM GOLDSTEIN'S LETTER TO MILLIONS OF CRUISE CUSTOMERS:

Dear XXX, 

All of us at Royal Caribbean International continue to extend our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by Carnival Corporation's recent tragic incident on the Costa Concordia. As a Crown & Anchor Society member and loyal Royal Caribbean guest, we know you may have some questions as the situation continues to unfold.

At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships. The measures we take in the interest of safety are many, often exceeding the regulatory requirements – these are all part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and continuous improvement in every aspect of our business.

To address some of your questions and concerns, here is a video that will provide an overview of safety onboard our ships; the training of our crew, officers and captains; and the many regulations that govern our practices. Click here to watch.

As a past cruiser, we know your friends and family may be asking about your own time at sea. We hope that you'll share this video along with your personal Royal Caribbean experiences with them, and reinforce that cruising continues to maintain the best safety record of any industry in travel.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon on one of our ships sailing to 270 destinations worldwide.

Sincerely,

Adam Goldstein
President and CEO
Royal Caribbean International

Top 12 Blogs & Websites for Cruise News in 2012

Today is January 1st.  The first day of 2012!  This year over 14,000,000 people will sail on cruise ships.  Cruising continues to be one of the fasting growing travel industries, with a wide variety of cruise ships and destinations.  It is not a perfect industry and I consider myself one of its harshest critics.  But If you are considering taking a cruise this year, be safe and have a good time.  There are lots of good sources of information online.  I picked my favorite 12 blogs for 2012, from number 12 to number 1 (twitter name follows website/blog):   

12.  Mikey's Cruise Blog  by @mikeycruiseblog. This is a blog which I started following this Mikey's Cruise Blogyear.  The founder is Mikey Faust who, although just 15 years old, is the head blogger of this increasingly popular blog.  Mikey's Cruise Blog contains interesting articles written by Mikey and two other bloggers.  He just awarded the 2011 "Cruisey Awards" for best cruise line, best cruise director, best new ship, and so forth.  Somehow I won best cruise blog.  That automatically makes his cruise blog a top dozen blog in my book.  Keep an eye on Mikey's Cruise Blog this year.      

11.  CruiseMates - the "Complete Online Guide Cruise Guide and Community."  An online cruise community and message board somewhat like Cruise Critic (see below) but on a smaller scale.  I have bumped heads over the years with its chief author, Paul Motter, regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes and unexplained disappearances of cruise passengers.  But CruiseMates nonetheless contains tons of information and has knowledgeable and pleasant bloggers.  If you want cruise friendly editorials, this is the one channel for you.  It needs to become active on Twitter to become a top 10 player in the cruise world of social media. 

10.  The Ocean Escape, by @CruiseMan3000 This high energy cruise blog is authored by Shon The Ocean Escape "Cruise Man 3000" Ford, who is an unabashed cruise fan and NCL fan in particular.  His blog contains a "cruisetacular" (trademark pending) collection of Shon's personal cruising experiences, cruise ship reviews, and cruise line ratings.  Feeling blue?  Read Shon's exuberant & joyful articles.  If his blog were a church, I would join just for the fellowship.

9.  (Tie) Cruise Line Fans by @CruiseLineFans, a friendly cruise community with cruise reviews and a cruise forum / message board, and Cruise-Addicts by @CruiseAddicts, another popular cruise community.  Its website has a good cruise news section, a forum, cruise tracking application and gallery.  I don't know the principals behind either site but enjoy the interesting articles.   

8.  Cruise Maven by @CruiseMaven.  This is another cruise blog that I just started reading this year.  Authored by Sherry Laskin, a  freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Cruise Cruise MavenMaven's blog is bright and airy and contains well written articles and sharp photos.  She occasionally blogs on her first hand observations about potentially embarrassments to the cruise lines, such as when a cruise ship recently flunked a CDC inspection.  A real pro, Sherry's articles have appeared in many travel industry publications such as Travel Trade, Travel Weekly, Travel and Leisure News, and Senior Scene Magazine, as well as online media such as Travel Market Report, and CruiseReviews.com.   

7.  Chris Cruises by @OrlandoChris.  Chris Owen is the editor of his blog which has a reputation Chris Cruises - Chris Owenfor straight forward and insightful information about cruising.  I like Chris' blog because it strikes the right balance between cheerleading for the cruise industry and frank discussions about parts of the cruise industry which need improving.  For example, he has written articles about the need for parents to supervise kids on cruises which are right on the mark.  Chris is from Orlando and writes for Examiner and Gadling in addition to his website, LifeIsCruising.   

6.  Cruise Critic by @CruiseCritic This cruise community is a real juggernaut.  It has by far the most members and the most hard core cruise fans.  Its members will often report on an outbreak of a virus or an overboard passenger - often before the cruise ends and before the mainstream media publishes anything.  On the down-side, its community seems like the least diversified place on the planet.  Its message boards often turn vicious with flame wars, and a dissenting opinion is often ridiculed.  Threads critical of the cruise lines are sometimes pulled.  The usual comment from a CruiseCritic fan left on my blog is something like "feed the lawyers to the sharks!" or something equally enlightened.  Cruise Critic has not overcome the stigma of  being exposed for being a paid cruise line cheerleader and shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards.  Whenever the cruise industry needs some good Captain GreyBread - John Honeywellnews, Cruise Critic will interview a couple of PR people at CLIA and deliver a puff piece for their cruise line friends.

5.  Captain Greybeard by @CaptGreyBeard.  Perhaps its the British accent or the fact that my parents lived in London, but John Honeywell is one of my favorite cruise bloggers.  He writes for the U.K.'s Mirror about cruises.  Insightful.  Witty.  Good stuff.  He is also the only person I know who can type while holding a martini.   

4.  Cruise Radio by @CruiseRadio.  Doug Parker and his sidekick Matt Baisford are the geniuses Cruise Radio - Doug Parker behind this ridiculously popular blog and radio show which contains a continuous stream of interviews with travel agents, cruise executives, crew employees and tourism representatives.  Doug is the founder and friendly face of Cruise Radio.  He exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has risen to the top of the world of cruise social media.  He seems to be the one person in the world of cruising who is perpetually on a cruise ship having a good time.  Why do I think he has a beer koozie in one hand and a microphone in the other when he conducts his witty interviews?  A great, fun show with some good info to boot.   

3.  Cruise Junkie by Professor Ross Klein (no twitter).  While the U.S. media refused to take a Ross Klein Cruise Junkiecritical look at the shortcomings of the North American cruise lines over the past five years, Canadian sociology professor Ross Klein has been a diligent watchdog of the cruise industry.  He has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about the problem of crime and sexual assaults on cruise ships.  In an industry known for secrecy where what happens at a sea stays at sea, Professor Klein is the only credible independent source accurately tracking issues such as cruise overboards and noro-virus outbreaks.      

2.  Expert Cruiser by @ExpertCruiser.  Anita Dunham-Potter is a rare find - a travel enthusiast who Anita Dunham-Potteris as principled as she is intelligent.  She is experienced about the cruise industry and her articles reflect that.  She recently  joined the USA Today cruise team along with Gene Sloan.  It really not fair to the other cruise bloggers.  Its like teaming up Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.   

1.  CruiseLog by CruiseLog.  Gene Sloan is the perfect host for the perfect blog about cruising.  The blog is light on editorial opinion and encourages discussion and debate on all sides of the issue.  The marketing people at USA Today were ahead of the curve when they launched their "capture the national conversation" mission many years ago, and it worked particularly well with its travel section around cruises with Gene Sloan as Gene Sloan - USA Today CruiseBlog the host.  You can read about the success of the CruiseLog community in the best selling book  "The Hyper-Social Organization."  Gene will pen a short article about some newsworthy cruise topic.  He has nothing to sell and no ax to grind.  The USA Today readers will leave their comments pro and con, including some really thoughtful ideas.  A lively debate mostly by intelligent travelers.  A far cry from the lynch mob mentality at Cruise Critic.   

OK.  That's the top 12 (actually 13) to watch for 2012.  I feel guilty leaving out @Cruise Buzz, @Cruise Guy and @StarshineCruise so be sure to click on these friends and follow them on twitter.

Did I leave your favorite out?  Leave a comment below . . .

Cruise Law News: A Look Back at 2011

As this year comes to a close, it's time to look back at some of events of 2011.

Jewel of the Seas Crew Member InjuryLast year started out with a bang.  Our firm represented a seriously injured crewmember in a case against Royal Caribbean.  Our client sustained a debilitating back injury, underwent an unsuccessful surgery, and needed a second surgery which the cruise line refused to provide.  In January, a three member arbitration panel found that Royal Caribbean's refusal to provide the surgery "lacked any reasonable defense" and awarded the crewmember $1,250,000.  You can read  the decision here.

The award was featured in Miami's Daily Business Review, which you can read here.  It is the highest reported arbitration award for an injured crewmember to date.     

In ten days, we will begin a trial against Royal Caribbean on behalf of another crewmember who suffered a severe back injury, underwent an unsuccessful surgery and needs a second operation which the cruise line refuses to authorize.  Sound familiar?   Check back in a couple of weeks for the results of our first trial in 2012.   

Shortly after the Royal Caribbean award, we received bad news when a federal judge in Miami summarily ended one of our cases against Royal Caribbean where a young woman was severely injured while receiving private lessons on a FlowRider and underwent four surgeries.  The cruise line Royal Caribbean FlowRidertried to end the case based on a "liability waiver" which passengers are required to sign before participating in FlowRider activities as well as rock climbing, skating and other activities.  Liability waivers are illegal in maritime cases.  To our surprise the court granted the cruise line's motion, notwithstanding a federal statute clearly stating that liability waivers on the high seas are unenforceable.

The decision sent a shock wave through the Miami maritime legal community because liability waivers in maritime matters have been unenforceable for decades.  The defense lawyers for the cruise lines were giddy.  They spoke openly of requiring cruise passengers to sign liability waivers for everything from playing shuffleboard to exercising in the gym to swimming in the cruise ship's pool.  We appealed.  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the lower court's ruling and held that cruise line liability waivers are illegal and unenforceable, even if they involve ultra-hazardous or inherently dangerous activities.  The decision is a great result that will protect cruise passengers for years to come.

The past year included the usual number of stories of cruise ship drug smuggling, sexual assaults, shipboard malpractice, serious injuries and passengers and crew disappearing under suspicious circumstances - everything the cruise lines don't want you to know about.

Jonathan Aronson - Lisa O'Neill - Jim Walker2011 was the first full year where our co-counsel Jonathan Aronson worked with us on cases.  Mr. Aronson was one of the best maritime attorneys in Florida who used to defend cases for Royal Caribbean until he switched sides to representing passengers and crewmembers.  The cruise line spent a small fortune trying to disqualify him and our firm from representing clients against it.  It lost.  We won. And most importantly, our clients benefited from having an excellent and highly experienced maritime attorney join our team.     

Our blog, Cruise Law News (CLN), enjoyed another popular year, ending up the number 11 most popular law blog per the Avvo/Alexa rankings.  This month over 53,000 people read over 156,000 pages of CLN. Here are some of the cruise highlights and lowlifes CLN covered:  

Mickey Mouse games by Disney Cruise Lines:  The Disappearance of Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam  Things are not as they seem in the Magical Kingdom's fleet of cruise ships. 

The most reckless cruise passenger "rescue" I have ever seen:  Cruise Passenger Dropped into Freezing Waters During Botched Rescue  The crew should have been arrested.  And speaking of being arrested:  

Best articles in the spirit of "Occupy Wallstreet:"  Royal Caribbean Executives Get Richer While Crew Members Get Poorer and Royal Caribbean Stock Fraud Lawsuits - What Did the Cruise Line Executives Know and When Did They Know It? 

Royal Caribbean Executives - Richard Fain - Adam GoldsteinThe saddest article and the most facebook "likes" for a single article:  Tragedy on HAL's Half Moon Cay: A Mother's Perspective (366 likes)

The most likes for drugs on the world's largest gay cruise:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (299 likes)

Weirdest story:  Woman Alleges False Imprisonment on Scientology Cruise Ship "Freewinds"

Second weirdest story:  Life In Jail For Cruise Passenger Who Threw Wife Overboard

Third weirdest story:  Accused Royal Caribbean Cruises Rapist Sues Bahamas for Spending Four Nights in Jail After Acquittal

Best April Fools story:  Breaking News: Carnival Cruise Lines Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Labor, Wage, Safety and Environmental Regulations  

Cruise Ship DisasterMost negative reaction to an article:  Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas: Is it Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Best series of articles:  Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

Best article written by a guest blogger:  Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract

Best videos:  Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos

My favorite personal articles:  Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth? and A View From A Fifth Grader - Gaddafi Finally Falls 42 Years Later 

Thanks to our readers, friends, and supporters for making CLN a success.  Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and our Cruise Law News facebook page.

Do you have a question about cruise law?   Don't hesitate to email me - jwalker@cruiselaw.com.

Jim Walker

Cruise Law News Roundup - November 27, 2011

Its been another exciting week in the world of cruising.

Over 50,000 cruise passengers arrived or departed aboard eight ships at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, setting a new world record for most people entering/leaving a port according to the Sun Sentinel.  The newspaper reports that the Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Carnival Miracle, Grand Princess, Crown Princess, Eurodam and MSC Poesia were in port.

The Oasis of the Seas also made the news with a report that 54 passengers and 10 employees reported being sick with an undisclosed illness.   The cruise line said that the cruise ship will undergo a "thorough cleaning" as a precaution before it's next sailing, whatever that means.

Speaking of undisclosed cruise ship illnesses, one passenger is dead and 80 sick on the HAL Veendam when it reached Brazil.  HAL immediately said the death has nothing to do with the shipboard illnesses.  HAL' s PR department must be some kind of experts in epidemiology Fort Lauderdale Cruise Ships - Port Canaveraland forensic medicine to make such a finding without even conducting an autopsy.

The LA Times reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 77 year old passenger showing signs of a stroke.  She was evacuated from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter dispatched from San Diego 230 miles southwest of San Diego on Saturday.  You can watch the amazing video of the rescue here.

Celebrity got hit with a $1,000,000 jury verdict after trying to save money by sending a 31 year old chef to the Dominican Republic where doctors improperly inserted a pacemaker which the young man did not need in the first place.  

A cruise passenger on a "banana boat" ride was seriously injured when struck in St. Kitts by another cruise passenger on a jet ski.  This comes just two weeks after a Celebrity cruise passenger was killed and her daughter was seriously injured during a parasail mishap in St. Thomas.  

The usual number of cruise passengers were foolish enough to buy pot in the Caribbean where one island will sell you reefer and the next island will fine you several thousands of dollars which the U.S. tourists are happy to pay to avoid a year or two in jail.  You can read about the fun and games here and here.

Cruise fans are still debating whether its safe to travel to Mexico, but no one in the U.S. except Cruise Law News is reporting on stories like this where 6 armed rob a jewelry store in Puerto Vallarta across from the cruise terminal when HAL cruise passengers are walking around in the shopping square.  This comes  couple weeks after a shoot-out in Cabo San Lucas, another story the cruise lines and travel agents won't mention. 

Shhh, don't alarm the cruise tourists, its bad for business.  

Bermuda Flag of Convenience - Cunard Queen Elizabeth Cruise ShipTurning overseas to the U.K., many British citizens are still fuming that Cunard decided to end its relationship with Britain and elected to register its cruise ships in Bermuda.  Mail Online published an interesting photo today of the Queen Elizabeth no longer bearing the port of "Southampton" on its stern and about to be painted with "Hamilton," the capital of Bermuda. 

Cunard claims that it did this in order for its ship captains to marry passengers at sea.  Most people believe that Cunard choose a flag of convenience in order to avoid British and European wage and labor laws. 

The Seattle Post reports that starting December 1st cruise ships will be prohibited from discharging wastewater into a protected marine sanctuary off the outer coast of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula.  The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary covers 2,408 square nautical miles and provides a habitat to many species of fish, seabirds and marine mammals.  Our family spent time kayaking up there last summer.  Its great news that an environmental group is keeping the cruise ship pee and poop out of the sanctuary. 

November has been a record month for Cruise Law News ("CLN").  Over 70,000 people read over 200,000 pages.  Outside the U.S., the most readers of CLN are from (in order) Canada, the U.K., Australia, Mexico and India.

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Jim Walker

Bottom:  Mail Online

November 20, 2011 Cruise Law RoundUp

This past month has seen a number of incredible stories about the cruise industry.

TOXIC CRUISE WATER?  The Sunday Times in London published a blockbuster article about a British paint inspector, Brian Bradford, who was kicked off a NCL cruise ship after complaining about health risks which may be posed to cruise passengers and crew by a Hempel paint coating which was applied to potable water tanks on NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  Whistle blower Bradford was hit with a "super injunction" to gag him from talking about the by the paint or Tocix Cruise Water?discussing anything about his inspection of the cruise ships in question. 

Its really amazing how corporations can endanger the public and then use their lawyers to cover the danger up.   

The only ones to report on the story have been cruise expert Ross Klein in Canada and the British press.  We are the only one talking about it here in the U.S.  Most U.S. newspapers (the LA Times and NY Times being the exceptions) are in the hip pocket of the cruise lines.  They accept cruise advertising revenue and publish colorful travel sections in their newspapers about the joys of cruising, but they look the other way when the cruise lines screw up.  Our local newspaper, the Miami Herald, is absolutely the pits.  But this story is far from over.  It is only a matter of time before someone in the U.S. other than our small blog pays attention to it.   

DISNEY COVER-UP?  The other blockbuster article was by another British newspaper, the Guardian, which published a story about missing Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam.  The article was featured in the newspaper's weekend edition with a photo of the Wonder cruise ship (below) on the cover.  The article was written by U.K. journalist, documentary filmmaker, and best selling author Jon Ronson who sailed on the Wonder for a week to gather information.  Disney Cruise Cover Up? For a cruise line that supposedly caters to children and families, its disturbing to think that Disney is more concerned with its Magical Kingdom illusion than the distraught Coriam family.

ANOTHER CRUISE LINE HIDES BEHIND DOHSA:  The most read article this month was from a guest blogger, a mother who wrote about the death of her three year old daughter in HAL's Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  Most cruise passengers do not understand that there is no recovery for pain, suffering, grief and bereavement when a cruise line's negligence kills a child.     

CRUISE FIRES, CRIME, DEATH AND ANOTHER OVERBOARD:  This month we have seen the usual type of calamities which you will never read on a cruise line or travel agents web site: a fire in the Red Sea which forced the evacuation of 1,200, another cruise fire which destroyed a Russian river cruise boat, an overboard passenger from a NCL cruise ship in Falmouth, Jamaica, the sentencing of a "serial rapist" to 10 years in jail after the rape of a 13 year old girl on a Carnival ship, life imprisonment for murder for a passenger who threw his wife overboard, and the death last week of a 60 year old woman and serious injury to her daughter on a Celebrity sponsored parasailing accident in St. Thomas.

JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL CRUISE VICTIMS ("ICV"):  If these type of stories concern you, consider International Cruise Victims - Cruise Crime - Cruise Disappearancesjoining the ICV which is a grass roots victims' organization consisting of families of passengers and crewmembers who have been injured or lost at sea during cruises.  You can read about the ICV here.

GOOD NEWS FOR CRUISE LAW NEWS ("CLN"):  Our readership continues to grow.  So far this month, over 44,000 unique readers clicked on our blog and read over 127,000 pages.  If statistics mean anything, CLN ranks as the 12th most popular law blog according to AVVO/Alexa.  I'm convinced that people flock to our blog because there simply is no place else to read stories about cruising that the cruise lines don't want you know about. 

If you have a story you want us to cover, let us hear from you.    

Cruise Law News Celebrates Two Year Anniversary

This month marks the two year anniversary of the first publication of Cruise Law News ("CLN").

My first blog was back on September 7, 2009.  Since then I have written around 700 blogs about all types of disturbing and weird things that happen on cruise ships.

As I predicted two years ago, cruise lines and travel agents cringe daily at the articles.  But hopefully, you have learned about issues that the cruise industry PR machine and the happy-go-lucky cruise fanatics don’t want you to know.  And hopefully you are safer in the process. 

In the past two years, the public has read over 1,300,000 pages of CLN.  My little blog is currently ranked as the 13th most popular law blog per the AVVO / Alexa ranking system, for what that's worth.  1,630 people have taken the time to leave a comment, some negative and some pro. 

I hope that you have enjoyed reading the blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Here are some of my favorite articles over the last two years:

Most read article: Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas  The public can't resist a story about a drug dealer busted on a gay cruise aboard the world's largest cruise ship, National Inquirer anyone?

Most popular article: The Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival  The blog was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the ABA Journal, South Business Law Journal, Gadling, Slate, the U.K.'s Guardian and others.  Everyone loves it when a Sex Machine - Adam Goldsteinpersonal injury lawyer tells the public not to sue following a cruise disaster . . .    

Most ironic articles:  Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas and Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships (includes my favorite photo of a cruise line executive, in bed with booze surrounded by women with the Royal Caribbean logo across their bikini tops??)

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Splendor - carnival Cruise Fire Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  Unfortunately you have to lose a loved one before you can figure the answer out.

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise ShipCarnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger and Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon

Best social media articles: The Cruise Industry's Reputation - A Sinking Image and Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Clelia II - Video - StormBest article the cruise lines don't want you to read:  "Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water? 

Most terrifying cruise video (over 326,000 views and counting!): The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

Best article not read by the cruise industry: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

Thanks to my readers, friends, supporters, detractors and enemies for making Cruise Law News a success.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and my Cruise Law News facebook page

 

Bottom photo credit: Clelia II   Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)

Cruise Law News RoundUp - July 18, 2011

The big news this week is the sad story of the sinking of the Bulgaria cruise ship on the Volga river.  The 1955 era ship was considered a rust bucket.  On the day in question, it sailed with a malfunctioning engine, listing to one side, and overloaded with passengers.  When a storm turned the ship sideways, the captain could not right the vessel and it rolled and sank.  Over 100 people Bulgaria Cruise Ship Disasterperished, mostly women and children.  The international press is calling the tragedy the Russian Titanic.

Last week marked the six year anniversary of the suspicious death of George Smith.  We ran a series of articles Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Royal Caribbean is placing pressure on the city of Key West to dredge and fill a path through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in order to widen the shipping lane into the harbor to accommodate its Genesis class of cruise ships, according to the Key Noter newspaper.   If the channel is not widened, the cruise line threatens to bypass Key West and head straight to Mexico.  However, dredging will destroy coral and sea fan resources.  Currently, some 800,000 cruise passengers unload into Key West every year.  Some residents expressed concern that adding even more cruise tourists from mega ships like the Allure and the Oasis will degrade the overall experience of visiting Key West and turn it into an "amusement park like atmosphere," transforming Duval Street into "redneck Disney World meets Myrtle Beach."

Robert McGill - Murder - Carnival ElationCarnival cruise passenger Robert McGill, aged 57, admitted killing his wife of five years, Shirley McGill, after an argument during a five-night cruise aboard the Elation to Cabo San Lucas in July 2009.  I blogged about this bizarre case last year -Prosecutors May Seek Death Penalty In Carnival Cruise Murder Case.

Regarding firm news, Cruise Radio interviewed me regarding a legal case.  Cruise Law News is the number 15th most popular law blog per the Alexa / Avvo rankings.  AOL Travel / Gadling published an article - "Death by Cruise Ship? It Can Come in Several Ways" which mentioned our firm.   The article cited our series on the disappearance of George Smith and featured a video of me on the Scarborough show.  Wow, did I lose a lot of hair in the past six years.

Princess Cruises showed how not to handle customer complaints by abandoning a honeymoon couple in St. Thomas (the crime capital in the Caribbean) and then dumping a passenger who Captain Stubing - Love Boatneeded a blood transfusion in Montego Bay, allegedly causing her to suffer brain injuries.  

Where is Captain Stubing and the Love Boat Doc when you need them? 

I ended the week with an article on the long hours and low pay which cruise ship cleaners receive: Long Hours, Repetitive Injuries & Bad Medical Care Plague Royal Caribbean Crewmembers.   Imagine working 330 hours a month for around $550. Turns out to be $1.67 hour or so. 

But don't worry.  When you sustain a serious repetitive hand injury, the cruise lines will send you back to Jamaica for surgery. 

Oh, I forgot, there are no hand surgeons in Jamaica.

Cruise Law News RoundUp - July 6, 2011

Things are suppose to slow down in the summer, but there are no signs of that yet.

Royal Caribbean recenty tried to muzzle a Miami lawyer who issued a press release about a cruise line case scheduled for trial in November.  Gagging lawyers from talking to the pubic requires introducing substantial evidence establishing that the parties will not receive a fair trial.  The risk of trying to quiet a critic runs the risk of looking like a bully.  Not a smart move.  The attack on the lawyer and his disabled client just focused the public's attention on the cruise line's strong arm tactics.   

Whenever I see Royal Caribbean try and muzzle the press, I think back to 2005 and 2006 when this Richard Fain - Royal Caribbean CEO  cruise line embarked on a media campaign following the disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise.   We represented Mr. Smith's wife, Jennifer Hagel.  Royal Caribbean sent its CEO Richard Fain (photo left) and high profile media lawyer Lanny Davis (photo below right) onto the cable news shows to influence public opinion.   

Why should any local Miami lawyer be muzzled when this cruise line sends its CEO and high profile lawyers from Washington D.C. onto TV programs to discuss legal controversies?   

Speaking of RCCL, the Oasis of the Seas intercepted 7 Cuban rafters, who are back in Cuba after the cruise line turned them over to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Very strange that a company incorporated in Liberia which flies the flag of the Bahamas is acting like a branch of the U.S. Coast Guard responsible for sending rafters back to Cuba. This is the fourth time a Royal Caribbean cruise ship "rescued" Cubans fleeing to the U.S. in the last 6 months.

You can read about the cases here, here, here and here.   

Princess Cruises' Sea Princess has been in the news, too.  There have been reports of norovirus on the cruise ship during the last four cruises. The cruise line has again blamed the passengers for bringing the virus aboard and then spreading it around.  The Centers for Disease control state that the most likely cause of norovirus in most cases is contaminated food or water, but cruise lines like Princess always blame the passengers.  Those dirty passengers, if they would only wash their hands.  Since when did cruise PR representatives rather than epidemiologists determine the cause of viral outbreaks?     

Speaking of dirty, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 failed a surprise sanitation inspection conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.  The CDC found the luxury liner to have "extremely dirty" water and tile in a pool, human hair in an ice machine, and chemicals stored near napkins, paper cups and utensils.  The CDC report used the word "filthy" five times.  Oh, that filthy Mary!

The Carnival Glory, meanwhile today scored her second perfect sanitation score  -  a 100.  This Cruise Line PR - Lanny Davis time it was issued by Canadian authorities; the week before it was by the CDC.  

Cruise ships are getting bad press in Venice.  An Italian preservation society has announced that Venice faces an “irreversible environmental catastrophe" unless visitor numbers are capped and cruise ships are restricted.  The Telegraph newspaper in London published a provocative article entitled "Venice Risks Losing its Soul Due to Mass Tourism.'   In May, we discussed the effect of the cruise industry on Venice in our article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Our blog Cruise Law News is number 16 in the top law blogs per the AVVO / Alexa ranking system.  Not bad, but a disappointment to slip out of the top ten. 

Today the Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica, where we advertise, interviewed us about the services we provide for crewmembers who are injured on cruise ships.  Cruise Law News was cited in an interesting article in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper yesterday entitled "Thawing Arctic Opens Up New Shipping Routes on the Roof of the World."   The article discussed our coverage of the Clipper Adventurer striking an uncharted "underwater cliff" off the waters of Nunavut in northern Canada.

Do you have a cruise line issue you are interested in discussing?  Leave us a comment or contact us at jim@cruiselaw.com.  

Cruise RoundUp - June 25, 2011

Its never dull in the world of cruising.  This week was no exception.

Our firm remained busy with cases against the cruise lines.  At any given time, we and our co-counsel represent a little under 100 cruise passengers and crewmembers.  New clients retained us this week after being injured on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  Our advertising efforts in the Caribbean are paying off.  Three crewmembers from Royal Caribbean retained us and our co-Jamaica - Cruise Ship Crew counsel Jonathan Aronson.  The majority of our crewmember clients are former employee of Royal Caribbean who received poor medical care after being injured at work.

This week saw a passenger go overboard from the NCL Spirit cruise ship.  The cruise ship was sailing on the Mississippi River south of New Orleans when he ended up in the water.  How and why did this happen?  There is no information available in the media so far.  Its not easy to fall of a cruise ship (unless alcohol is involved), so he probably jumped or perhaps was pushed, I'm not sure.  Its anyone's guess at this point.  The good news is that he is alive and well, which is not the usual situation in cases like this.  Count your blessings my friend.  

A 51 year old passenger was medevaced by the Coast Guard off of the coast of California from the Carnival Paradise.  The passenger reportedly experienced convulsions ans was showing signs of a stroke, and was taken to a hospital in San Diego.  Medevacs like this happen literally on a weekly basis.  Its a "free" service of the U.S. Coast Guard.  If you are going to have a medical emergency on a cruise ship, make sure it is within the reach of a Coast Guard cutter or helicopter which can take you to a U.S. hospital.     

A passenger was assaulted in Bermuda but the police shrugged it off.  This was one of the stranger stories we have blogged about.  A Cruise Critic forum contained a post about a passenger from the NCL Dawn allegedly being jumped and beaten by a would be robber near the Maritime Museum.  But there was no report of the crime on the official website of the Bermudian police department.  The police then said that it was not an assault or robbery, it was just an injury due to a drug deal gone astray.  Huh?  

The incident occurred a week after two NCL crewmembers from the Dawn were assaulted early in Monarch of the Seas - Dumping - Pollutionthe morning in Snorkel Park.  A local newspaper published an article about the crewmember fracas entitled Warning of Tourism Fallout after Fight.    Is Bermuda's approach to public relations now to dismiss a report of a violent crime as a "drug deal gone bad?"

The Queen Mary 2 failed a CDC inspection.  The U.K. Daily Mail reports that sanitation inspectors branded the Queen Mary 2 "filthy" five times in a report.

The week started with my blog article about former Royal Caribbean Staff Captain Bjørn Eidissen's court case where a Miami judge permitted his lawyer to amend the lawsuit to seek punitive damages against the cruise line.  The case arises out of the September 2005 leak of hydrogen sulfide on the Monarch of the Seas which killed three crewmembers and injured nineteen others.  While researching the story, I ran across a report by the staff captain in which he alleges that four months later the Monarch of the Seas dumped tons of sediment and chemicals into the waters off of the shores of San Francisco as the ship was heading to a dry dock.   

Staff Captain Eidissen claims that the incident was reported to the top executives at Royal Caribbean, but no one did anything.  I cannot find any indication that the Coast Guard investigated the incident.  If this is true, this seems like a heck of a blockbuster story.  But there appeared to be little interest in the article.  Perhaps the public is tired of stories about cruise ships polluting the oceans.  

In an unrelated story, for the first three months of this year CLIA - the trade organization for the cruise industry - spent over $490,000 lobbying U.S. agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Cruise Law News Wins Shorty Award in Law

It's official.  Cruise Law is the top vote receiver in the Shorty Awards contest in crowd-sourced field of law for 2011. 

For those of you who follow this blog or interact with me on Twitter, you know that I am a lawyer who believes in the power of communicating via the social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Last year I tied for first place in the law category.  I then did the chivalrous thing of voting for my Shorty Award - Lawopponent, a lawyer in England, to break the tie.  Yes I believe in Karma.  What goes around comes  around.  This year I won in a landslide. 

So what is the significance of the Shorty Awards in law?  The Shorty Awards people say that the award recognizes the "best people and organizations on Twitter and social media."  

Our blog is just 18 months old but has been a top 10 most popular blog for going on a year now.

If you are looking for an insight into what is happening in the off-shore, multi-national, tax avoiding, and non-sustainable cruise industry - you will find it here first.  

Cruise Law News Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine

Cruise Law News was featured today in Attorney at Law Magazine in an article by legal marketing expert Paula Black. 

In her article "The Right Results," Paula writes:

"Jim Walker of Miami firm Walker & O'Neill P.A. runs the popular Cruise Law News, a blog focused solely on "breaking news and legal commentary regarding cruise ship passengers and crew members around the world."  A niche practice?  Yes.  A smart blog?  Also yes.  As a result of being one of the only attorneys blogging about the topic - and the only one providing actual daily commentary - he has seen his visibility skyrocket.  Jim has been featured over one hundred times on television, cable news and radio shows, as well as in documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles."  

In the short time our law blog has been on line, we climbed to the number 10 most popular law blog in the U.S.! 

Paula is a real pro when it comes to assisting law firms in developing business.  Check out her highly regarded blog: "In Black and White."

Thanks Paula!

Paula Black - Legal Marketing - In Black and White

Cruise Law News Enjoys Record Month in February

Cruise Law News (CLN)'s readership exploded last month.  In February, our followers read 100,000 pages of CLN which remains the 10th most popular law blog in the U.S.  Here is what people are recently saying about Jim Walker and CLN:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Cruise Law Expert" - Slate Magazine.

Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

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

Cruise Law News - "A Hard-Hitting Blog" - Miami's Daily Business Review. 

Last month saw the revival of the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award, won again by Royal Caribbean due to an epidemic of crew deaths and the prevalence of drugs on RCCL cruise ships,   This month you will be reading a lot more about crimes associated with the Royal Caribbean cruise brand, here on the most popular maritime law website in the world.  

Follow Cruise Law News on Facebook

One of the interesting things about having a blog is that there are programs which indicate how many viewers you have, how many pages they look at, and the countries where they are from.

For the first two weeks of this month alone, Cruise Law News (CLN) has been viewed over 62,000 times.  We have been the tenth most popular law blog for several months now. 

Jim Walker - Cruise Law News - Greta Van SusternThe number one referrer of visitors to CLN is Google (US), with other referrers via the Google search engines from the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Puerto Rico, Australia, India, Germany, Norway, Mexico and Brazil.

The number two referrer to CLN is Facebook, which surprises me.  Rather than just being a place to socialize on line, we are finding that Facebook is increasingly becoming a place where news is disseminated and issues are discussed.   

We created a Facebook page for CLN recently to help get the news out about things that happen on cruise ships. You can read about some of the high profile cases involving the cruise industry.  You can see our photographs of some of our clients and cases here.  We have a rather modest group of followers at this early date (around 200) which includes cruise passengers and crew members.  It is slowly growing.  With the new Facebook format, our followers can post their own links to articles as well as post photographs and upload videos.

We hope that you click the "like" button and follow CLN on Facebook.  Please consider taking a moment and post a comment to one of our blog articles, or post your own interesting link to a cruise-related story. 

Thanks for your interest!

Cruise Law News: State of the Union January 2011

Year 2011 began with a bang at Cruise Law News ("CLN").

CLN was the first publication in the U.S. to cover some of the most newsworthy stories about the cruise industry this year. 

We started the year by pointing out that the new president (Christine Duffy) of the the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), has carried on CLIA's Pinocchio-like tradition of tall tales by telling her first lie.  And it was only the third day of the new year!    

Royal Caribbean's reputation of having the most passengers overboards and the least transparent PR department is alive and well n 2011.  Two weeks ago, we reported that  a 21 year old passenger fell from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas as it approached Belize.  The local press Jim Waker Cruise Law News Blogin Belize speculated wildly (seemingly to RCCL's approval)  that the passenger may have committed suicide (the cruise lines' favorite excuse).  The U.S. newspapers (especially the worthless Miami Herald) ignored the story.  

CLN was the the first U.S. publication to explain what really happened.  In our artice - "Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship" - many passengers including the missing young man's family posted comments about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.  We caught someone criticizing the family on our blog's comment section using a computer connection which we traced back to the Royal Caribbean headquarters.  Sick!

Talking about sick cruise lines, we covered the first case of "cruise ship sickness" (CLIA hates that expression) which occurred on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas.  Sixty-five passengers left comments about the experience.  Yuck.  The cruise line went to its PR playbook, diverted attention away from its own food and water, and blamed the passengers, as usual, for not washing their hands.   

The month so far has seen CLN report on a crew member child porno addict (allegedly mind you) who worked as an audio visual manager and provided onboard guest-entertainment services on the Constellation cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister line Celebrity Cruises.  

This month CLN covered the bizarre cruise story of a child predator / defrocked catholic priest who was accused of molesting 33 little girls.  Yet, a local cruise company (Voyages of Discovery) was more than pleased to let him buy a cruise ticket.   We also blogged about yet another drug smuggling ring on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, this time the Explorer of the Seas.    

Our readership is exploding.   

Yesterday, we had well over 5,000 people read our blog.  Weekends are usually slower than weekdays, so 5,000 readers a day is a lot of people clicking on CLN.  So far this month, over 70,000 pages of CLN have been read.  We are on track for over a million people reading CLN a year.  We had more readers in one day yesterday than in our first month when the blog started in September 2009! 

CLN remains the number 10 top law blog in the world based on the Alexa / AVVO popularity rankings, and a top 25 influencer in the world of social media involving the cruise industry.

Last week, CLN was featured on Cruise Radio, the most popular cruise related radio show in the world, about how to stay safe on cruise ships.  As the host mentioned, we "gave some brutal but honest facts.  It's a great reminder" about cruise ship safety. Take a listen here.

CLN is also in first place in the Shorty Awards in law.  It's admittedly a faux award, but its purpose is to recognize the "best people and organizations on Twitter and social media."  

The state of the union for Cruise Law News - is strong!  We are having a lot of fun too!

Why The ABA Journal Blawg 100 Sucks

Take a look at the "blawg 100" stream on Twitter and you see a hilarious spectacle.  Lawyers desperately begging for votes to win one of the best "blawg" (law blog) categories hawked by the ABA Journal's Blawg 100 contest.

The ABA Journal has quite a scam going.  The Journal is operated by one of the most obsolete and irrelevant legal groups around today, the  American Bar Association.  The game goes like this: self-appointed ABA Journal "judges," who are mostly former reporters or editors for rinky-dink newspapers and who ABA Journal Blawg 100 have never represented a real life client in a courtroom, pick their 100 favorite "blawgs."  

But that's just the beginning.  The ABA Journal divides the top 100 "blawgs" into 12 arbitrary categories.  There is a category for law professor blogs (what else are professors suppose to do but write?), one for labor law, one for "criminal justice" (what's that?), and even one "for fun." (Do we really need a category of lawyer jokes?)   

Each category consists of anywhere from 5 to 12 law blogs, designed to compete against and simultaneously congratulate one another.  Some obviously qualified blogs - like Overlawyered - are left out, to create controversy.  The ABA Journal encourages the chosen bloggers to write something witty to promote the ABA Journal's contest.  The bloggers and their shills solicit votes via a number of cute blog posts or solicitous tweets promoting themselves and the ABA Journal in the process.  Kinda like trained seals, these lawyers are all-too-happy to balance a ball on their noses for the trainer.  

Now here's the catch.  To vote for one of the hand picked ABA Journal "blawgs," you must first register with the ABA journal.  This requires the 100 wannabee winners to encourage their friends, family, staff and strangers to register with the ABA Journal which requires the submission of an email address. The ABA Journal also encourages the bloggers to use ABA badges and ABA press releases written by the ABA, promoting the ABA of course. 

The ABA should have focused on law blogs which have championed the rights of victims, immigrants, or minorities, or the best new blogs written by law students or non-profits, or the most influential law blogs that have effectuated social changes.   But instead we have a list which includes some bloggers with questionable relevance and little influence, compiled into silly categories by a group of disconnected editors with no real life experiences of practicing law.  The ABA list is entirely subjective and has little reflection of influence or popularity.  Some of the blogs selected by the ABA can't garner more than 20 votes from their own readers.

This is not the first time the ABA Journal's "blawg" contest has been criticized.  In the past, it has been labeled as too elitist, too big-city, too big-firm, or too hostile to personal injury lawyers (like me). 

But most of the criticism is from lawyers who were pissed that they were not selected - like New York personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz who complained bitterly several years ago that the ABA Journal ignored personal injury lawyers.  But when the ABA listed his blog (and a good one at that), New York Personal Injury Blog, as one of the top 100, Turkewitz's rage was soothed over by the coveted ABA badge.  This year he expressed that he was "flattered" by being selected - as if he won the Mother Teresa Humanitarian Award or the Nobel Peace Prize, for Christ's sake. 

Now, this may all sound like sour grapes because my blog, a top ten most popular blog, and the most influential maritime personal injury law blog in the U.S. (no, I am not modest), didn't get the nod.  (The "tort" blogs selected by the ABA Journal rank in popularity from 300,000 to over 4,000,000 blogs behind me).  Perhaps like Turkewitz I don't like to be ignored, but unlike my New York colleague I am not making a fuss hoping to be picked in next ABA Journal Blawg 100 - Law Blogyear's ABA contest.  Groucho Marx would never join a club which would have him as a member, and I don't want the ABA's ugly badges or ponderous press releases.  

But don't get me wrong.  Some of the law blogs picked by the ABA are outstanding, popular and influential.  Bill Marler's blog about e-coli and contaminated food is the best personal injury / product liability blog out there.  Probably the best law blog, period.  And Dan Harris' China Law Blog is clearly superior as well.  But these excellent lawyers and connected bloggers don't need a silly ABA Blawg 100 badge.  They are already well respected by their legal peers and highly influential in the public arena in their areas of the law. 

After a month of promotion, the ABA Journal voting finally ends today.  Check out the ABA "Blawg 100" frenzy again on Twitter.  Be sure to give the ABA your email address so you can receive solicitations to join the ABA and subscribe to the ABA Journal. 

And don't forget to vote for your favorite trained seal.  

Cruise Law News' Best Blogs of 2010

As year 2010 comes to a close, it's time to look back at some of the highlights of Cruise Law News (CLN).  

CLN reached the top 10 most popular law blogs, placing us above such heavyweight blogs as the China Law BlogSimple Justice, Jonathan Turley and Overlawyered.     

CLN also became a "top cruise vacation influencer," which consists of cruise lines, travel agents, and cruise fans who dominate social media affecting the cruise industry.  I'm sure having a Royal Caribbean - Adam Goldstein - Sex and Booze Sells Cruisesmaritime personal injury lawyer in the top 10 drives the cruise industry bonkers.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts for the past year: 

Most popular article: The Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival  The blog was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the ABA Journal, South Business Law Journal, Gadling, Slate, the U.K.'s Guardian and others.  Everyone loves it when a personal injury lawyer tells the public not to sue following a cruise disaster . . .    

Most ironic articles:  Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas and Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships (includes my favorite photo of a cruise line executive, in bed with booze surrounded by women with the Royal Caribbean logo across their bikini tops??)

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Splendor - carnival Cruise Fire Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  Unfortunately you have to lose a loved one before you can figure the answer out.

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise ShipCarnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger and Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon

Best social media articles: The Cruise Industry's Reputation - A Sinking Image and Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Clelia II - Video - StormBest article the cruise lines don't want you to read:  "Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water? 

Most terrifying cruise video (over 296,000 views and counting!): The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

Best article not read by the cruise industry: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

Thanks to our readers for a great 2010!   Do you have an idea for blog articles for 2011?  Leave us a comment below. 

 

Bottom photo credit: Clelia II   Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)

Thanks For Visiting Cruise Law News

Cruise law News - CLN - Jim Walker LawyerThe month of November ended with a bang.  Readers of Cruise Law News (CLN) viewed over 68,000 pages of our blog in November alone, roughly three and one-half times the total population of my home town in Arkansas.  When I first started this blog a year ago, I barely had 5,000 pages readers a month.  Since then, our readership has exploded.  We have thousands of subscribers to our bog everyday, via RSS feed and email, and tens of thousands of regular readers. 

CLN reached two milestones this past month. One was reaching the top 10 most popular law blogs based on quantifiable criteria.   

The second milestone was being included in the Top 25 Cruise Vacation Influencers.  This is a ranking of websites and blogs which are considered "influential" in the world of cruising, again Cruise Law News - CLN - Jim Walker Blogbased on certain objective metrics.  CLN is currently no. 11, ahead of Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines and P & O Cruises.  The interesting thing about this list is that it primarily consists of cruise lines like Carnival (no. 1), Royal Caribbean (no. 5) and NCL (no. 10) or travel agents like CruiseBuzz (no. 2) or BuyCruises (no. 3). 

Being the only true cruise critic in the top 25 reflects that the public is interested in information other than the propaganda spoon fed by the cruise lines.  We have many readers who are cruise line employees and crew members on ships who contact us regularly about problems they encounter and think should be made public.  Passenger and crew member safety and shipboard working conditions are issues of particular interest to our readers.  

The cruise industry may not agree with much of what we publish, but  the cruise Cruise Law News - CLN - Cruise Law Bloglines read CLN on a daily basis.  When a passenger or crew member "disappears" or there is suspicious circumstances surrounding a death, they know that we will cover the story and provide a forum for passengers and crew to leave comments about what really happened.  

If you are a regular reader of CLN or have left a comment on our blog over the past year, thanks!   We need your input to be able to continue to provide a glimpse into what the cruise lines don't want the public to know. 

Cruise Law News Now Top Ten Law Blog

For the past six months, I have been tracking the popularity of my blog Cruise Law News (CLN) on Avvo / Alexa Top Legal Blogs.  When I first started looking at the rankings, CLN was the 55th most popular law blog. Today, CLN cracked Avvo's list of the top ten (10) most popular law blogs. 

I started blogging in mid-September last year after joining the LexBlog family.  LexBlog's CEO and blog guru Kevin O'Keefe counseled me not to be narcissist and get caught up in popularity contests like this.  Cruise Law - Law - Miami - LA - Seattle

Instead, O'Keefe told me that the mark of an effective blog is not rankings, but the influence the blog has on key players in your area of the law - like the media, top bloggers, and strategic decision makers. 

In the last ten days, CLN has been cited in the national and international media, both old school media and hip bloggers, like the LA Times, the U.K's MirrorWall Street Journal Blog, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, Gadling, FOX Business, Slate Magazine, the Courier Post, South Florida Business Journal, and the ABA Journal.  

O'Keefe was right of course about the importance of being a connected influencer, but I can't help being narcissist enough to enjoy being on someone's top 10 list.

 

If you like this, read about Cruise Law News and LexBlog: CruiseLaw Meets LexBlog

Cruise Law RoundUp - Cruise Fire, Ambulance Chasers, and More Caribbean Crime

This has been an exciting week in the crazy world of cruising. 

The Allure of the Seas Arrives in South Florida, But No One Noticed:  Last Thursday Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, the world's biggest cruise ship, arrived in its home port of Port Everglades after sailing across the Atlantic from the shipyard.  The Allure joins its sister ship in the Genesis class, the Oasis of the Seas, in Fort Lauderdale. Unlike the great fanfare surrounding the Oasis' arrival last December, the Allure's debut in South Florida was largely a non-event.  The little publicity Allure of the Seassurrounding the mega cruise ship's arrival was overshadowed by the spectacle taking place on the west coast of the U.S., as tugs towed the disabled Splendor to San Diego following an engine room fire which left the Carnival cruise ship dead in the water off of the coast of Mexico.  

Bigger But Not Better:  The arrival of the Allure juxtaposed with the wounded Splendor re-ignited the debate whether this new breed of big ships, which many call floating malls - and which the cruise lines market as supposedly incorporating the cruise industry's newest technologies - is really a big step backwards.  The LA Times interviewed me and members of the International Cruise Victims in "Stranded Cruise Ship Offers Lesson in Huge Vessels' Vulnerabilities."

How could a super sized new ship like the Splendor be rendered a powerless tub by a single fire to only one of its six diesel engines?   What about the redundant safety systems which have existed in cruise ships for fifty years?   And aren't these beasts of a cruise ship the embodiment of everything non-sustainable about the cruise industry?   The Huffington Post addressed the surreal nature of the cruise industry and its huge ships in an "age of dwindling energy reserves and burgeoning population" in an excellent article "Cruising for a Bruising."   

Carnival Splendor Cruise FireTo Sue or Not to Sue?  The issue of cruise disasters and ambulance chasing lawyers reached an regional, national and international audience following the fire aboard the Splendorr.  On Monday, I wrote an article criticizing lawyers who are trolling for passengers to sue Carnival for the ship fire.  I pointed out three reasons why a lawsuit against the cruise line is ill advised.  

My article reached a regional audience when Kevin Gale at the South Florida Business Journal touched on the subject in an article "Carnival Splendor: To Sue or Not to Sue."  Gene Sloan of USA Today's Cruise Log took the issue to U.S.readers when he wrote "Sue Carnival over Splendor Incident? Don't Bother, Says Top Cruise Lawyer," Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal Law Blog chimed in with "Plaintiffs’ Lawyer to Splendor Passengers: Don’t Bother Suing," and Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal covered the issue with "Cruise Ship Lawyer: Smelly Toilets and Cold Showers Won’t Support a Lawsuit."   John Honeywell (@CaptainGreyBeard) of the U.K.'s Mirror took the story overseas with "Splendor Passengers Back Carnival." 

Carnival v. Wartsila?  Although I expect few passengers to file suit against Carnival, there is no question that Carnival will make a claim against the diesel engine manufacturer, Wartsila.  The Splendor is only 2 years old.  Diesel engines are not suppose to crack a crankshaft, burn the engine room, and shut down a $700 million cruise ship like this.  The Splendor is expected to be out of service for two months.  By my calculations, that means Carnival will lose the fare and onboard purchases of 3,000 passengers for 8 weeks or so.  That sounds like a loss of tens of millions of dollars which Carnival will be expecting Wartsila to pay.

Celebrity Passengers Robbed in St. Kitts:  Four banditos robbed 17 cruise passengers from the Mercury cruise ship on a bus during a cruise excursion in St. Kitts.   As usual the local tourism board St. Kitts - Crimeproclaimed that such crime is rare.  But the truth is that robbery and murder of cruise passengers are regular occurrences in the Caribbean.  Its unheard of sailing from Vancouver to Alaska, but its business as usual in the Caribbean islands.  Its a function of poverty and drugs.  A couple of cruise lines are now skipping St. Kitts.  One line is now calling on Antigua where a young woman sailing on a Star Clippers cruise ship was murdered ashore in January.  You can't find a Caribbean island where cruise passengers have not been a victim of a violent crime.  Beautiful, but dangerous.  

Cruise Law News (CLN) Moves Up:  The popularity contest and my unabashed self promotion of CLN continue.  CLN is the no. 12 most popular law blog per the Avvo-Alexa rankings.  Expect a top 10 announcement by Thanksgiving.  Many thanks to our readers and those of you who support our blog by leaving comments.  We appreciate your comments, pro or con.    

 

Credits:  Bottom photo: "Destination360 St. Kitts and Nevis"

Cruise Law Sneaks Ahead of China Law Blog in Avvo Top Legal Blogs

The fun thing about writing your own blog, or running your own law firm, or having your own donut shop for that matter, is that it provides you with an opportunity to be competitive with other blogs, law firms and donut shops.  

One of my goals this year was for Cruise Law News (CLN) to become a top 25 blog on the popularity chart of Avvo"s Top Legal Blogs (which is based on the Alexa tracking system).  I am ahead of schedule. Today, CLN was the 14th most popular law blog - just barely nosing out Dan Harris' China Law Blog, which is undoubtedly one of the best legal blogs around.    

There are now just four blogs ahead of CLN for a place in the top ten law blogs.  So I will make another prediction.  CLN will be the 10th most popular law blog by the end of this year.  

There are simply far too many crazy things that happen on a regular basis in the world of cruising not to write about. 

CLN addresses cruise stories that the mainstream newspapers are afraid to touch.

So sign up to read CLN via email or RSS feed to stay on top of breaking news stories about the cruise industry.  On December 31st of this year, expect to receive an update celebrating CLN becoming the 10th most popular law blog around .  .  .   

Cruise Law's First Podcast - Thanks LexBlog!

I just had my first podcast which is featured on Kevin O'Keefe's Real Lawyers Have Blogs

The podcast was an interview of me by LexBlog's Colin O'Keefe entitled: Talk of the LexBlog Network : Jim Walker of Cruise Law News  Go to the link and then click on the play button if you want to hear me ramble on about blogging and cruise ship issues (Colin O"Keefe had to turn on the music to stop me talking . . . )

Here is the intro to the podcast by LexBlog:

"Plain and simple, Jim Walker's Cruise Law News is one of the best law blogs out there, along with being one of my favorites on the LexBlog Network.  Not only does Jim produce content at an incredible rate—356 posts in the 365 days after launching—but it's content that doesn't tiptoe around sensitive subjects.  In Jim's words, he set out to "talk straight about issues which make the cruise industry uncomfortable."  And what has this done? Just place him amongst the most popular law blogs in the United States. 

On this podcast we discuss how he developed this unique approach, setting aside time to blog, finding topics to blog about and how the coverage found on his blog compares to what's put forth by the mainstream media."

You can listen to the podcast here

 

Thanks to the O'Keefes for my first podcast and helping me with my blog for the past year! 

   

 

Cruise Law News Enters Top 20 of Popular Law Blogs

Several months ago, I predicted that Cruise Law News (CLN) would become a top 25 law blog by the end of the year.  Well, I was a bit off.  CLN is now the top 20th law blog overall per the popular Avvo / Alexa ranking system.  And its only October.

Wow .  .  .  Top 20!  I feel like I sneaked into the AP / UPI football poll, like Boise State before everyone figured out that they have always had a great football program (even if they are in Idaho where it is cold as hell after Thanksgiving).

To get here, I had to pass some super blogs:  Brian Cuba's great blog The Cuban Revolution which is ranked no. 76 and remains one of my favorites; Eric Turkewitz's New York Personal Injury Law Blog (no. 45); Carolyn Elefant's My Shingle (no. 38);  George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley's blog "Res Ipsa Loquitur (no. 28); the SCOTUS blog (no. 25) (what a terrible acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States - "SCOTUS" sounds like something you would touch only with a glove . . . ); and the terrifically talented but terribly shy Tax Girl (no. 24)(its almost impossible to find her name on her own blog). 

When I over-took one of my favorite cynics, OverLawyered (no. 21), I knew there was no looking back.     

O.K.  Enough about the blogs in my rear view mirror.  Who's next to fall?  Professor Becker and 7th Circuit Judge Posner's great Beckner Posner Blog (no. 18) will soon be toast.  And I will pass the Canadian cooperative law blog Slaw, at no. 17, shortly.

Does this sound a bit cocky?  I hope so.  A lack of confidence as a trial lawyer is a sign of weakness, especially in a major metropolitan market like Miami.  And whenever I shamlessly promote my blog like this, I know that the most popular blog is not necessarily the most influential or substantial blog.  Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog wrote an article about not getting caught up in a popularity contest last year - "Engagement versus Vanity."  

My thought is that honking your own horn is just fine, as long as you are engaged and are writing insightful and relevant blogs. 

Another gratifying thing to me is that I have been blogging for only one year and the bloggers I passed have been at it for many years.   I'm sure that none of them have ever heard of CLN.

Cruise Law Weekend Roundup - October 15th

This was another interesting week in the strange world of cruise law news.

The week ended with a Miami jury awarding $2,900,000 in compensation for an injured Royal Caribbean crew member whose knee was butchered by a doctor in Nicaragua, which I mentioned in yesterday's blog.  The trial highlighted the cruise line's practice of keeping ill and injured crew members out of the U.S.

Jim Walker Cruise Law NewsAnother crew member committed suicide by jumping overboard at night.  This time it was a Carnival employee.  This is the fifth crew member suicide this year.  There have been four prior suicides by Royal Caribbean crew members in the past 10 months, on the Monarch of the Seas on January 1st, on the Radiance of the Seas on March 21st, on the Explorer of the Seas on May 5th, and on on the Oasis of the Seas on May 24th.  The cruise industry needs to study the issue of crew member depression given the requirement of working long hours everyday, every week, for months on end.   

Unlike the Royal Caribbean suicides, the Carnival tragedy was handled with great sensitivity by Cruise Director John Heald.

Royal Caribbean was named the worst of the world's major cruise lines for cuisine and service, according to the respected Berlitz "Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships."

It was a rough week for Royal Caribbean, being recognized for bad medical treatment for the crew members and bad food and service for the passengers, not to mention the most crew member suicides this year.

The week also saw the usual maritime dramas,  200 passengers rescued from a burning ferry boat in the Baltic Sea, a passenger who disappeared from the Balmoral cruise ship in the English Channel, and another Coast Guard rescue of an ill passenger from a cruise ship.

We also wrote about the 25th year anniversary of cruise passenger Leon Klinghoffer killed by Palestinian terrorists on the Achille Lauro cruise ship.  Have the cruise lines taken sufficient steps over the past 25 years to protect passengers from terrorism?

Cruise Law News (CLN) created a facebook page.  77 fans in the first week.  Yea!  Fans can post comments, photos and even videos.  We hope you visit and leave a comment!

CLN continued to moved up the list of popular law blogs.  On the Avvo / Alexa list, we are now the 21st most popular law blog.  For U.S. readers, we are in the top five most popular blogs by lawyers who actually practice law (I'm excluding law professors who have all of the time in the world to write!)

CLN was selected as one of the best blogs in the LexBlog network on Thursday.  Thanks LexBlog.

CLN was also mentioned in Ohio lawyer  Russ Bensing's popular blog "The Briefcase" in an article entitled "Fun on the High Seas.  Russ writes "forget what he costs them in his lawsuits; his blog alone is a powerful disincentive to those contemplating a Caribbean cruise."   Hmm . . . didn't know I was so scarry.  But thanks Russ!

Be aware and be prepared.   Safe cruising!

Visit Cruise Law News' Facebook Page

Today I created a Facebook page for Cruise Law News.    

Cruise Law News Facebook PageInstead of posting links on my personal page on Facebook, I will be posting links to this blog and other cruise and maritime articles on the Facebook page for Cruise Law News.  Now, anyone who is a member of Facebook can leave comments, links to cruise articles and blogs, and also post photos too.

We are looking forward to reading your comments on our Facebook page.

Cruise Law News - A "Hard Hitting Blog"

Today, the Miami Daily Business Review ran an article about Royal Caribbean trying to disqualify our firm (a story I wrote about last week - more about that later).  The Business Review characterized Cruise Law News (CLN) as a "hard hitting blog." 

Launched in September 2009, CLN has become one of the most widely read legal blogs in the U.S.  Based on U.S. readership, CLN is now in the list of the top 7 most popular law blogs written by lawyers who actually practice law. 

Now I will be the first to admit that winning a popularity contest does not mean being the most insightful or the most influential blog.  There are a lot of law blogs competing for the "best" category, based on all types of subjective and non quantifiable criteria.  And there are lots of interesting law blogs which are written by professors like The Volokh Conspiracy, AlthouseLegal Insurrection, Jonathan Turley and Slaw which have blogged successfully for years. 

But when it comes to lawyers who actually take depositions, attend hearings, go to court and try cases, the list of most popular blogs is quite small.  Which legal blawgs involving actual practicing lawyers are the most popular?

According to "Avvo's Top Legal Blogs," which uses the Alexa ranking system, here are the 7 most popular law blogs operated by practicing lawyers, based on U.S. traffic (the lower the number, the higher the ranking):

26,700 - IPWatchdog by Gene Quinn (patent lawyer); 

38,100  - Cruise Law News by me;

44,903 - Simple Justice by Scott Greenfield (criminal defense); 

59,782 - Mortgage Fraud Blog by Rachel Dollar (bank / transactional litigation);

77,300 - Tax Girl by Kelly Phillips Erb (tax attorney);

110,257 - China Law Blog by Dan Harris (international law); and

136,029 - Legal Juice by Mesirow & Stravitz (personal injury lawyers). 

When I launched the blog one year ago, I promised that I would talk straight about issues which make the cruise industry uncomfortable.  So Its reaffirming for a local business newspaper to call CLN "hard hitting." 

Sounds like bragging?  You bet.  This is Miami after all.  A lack of confidence in a city of over-achieving-caffeine-addicted-ego-maniacs gets you run over.  

And I don't intend to end up being road kill.

 

A "Hard Hitting Blog" was featured today on Best in Law Blogs : LexBlog Network : October 5, 2010  Thanks LexBlog!

Is Avvo's "Top Legal Blogs" a Good Indicator of the Best Law Blogs?

Earlier this year, I first learned of Avvo's "Top Legal Blogs" while reading a solo blogger lamenting that his law blog fell out of Avvo's top 10 law blog list.  I was intrigued by the rankings and began to read the top blogs to try and figure out why they were so popular.

Avvo - Top Legal Blogs - Top Law Blog - MaritimeSome of the blogs were really interesting and I began to follow them on a regular basis. Some were dreadfully boring, or at least I thought so.  All of the blogs had been publishing for many years.  

Unlike the individual lawyers Avvo ratings, the Avvo top legal blog list is based on the Alexa ranking system which some have criticized.  It is nonetheless a good indicator of a blog or web site's traffic rankings.

The Alexa system lists a website or blog in two ways: (1) its ranking in the world, and (2) its ranking in the United States. 

Cruise Law News (CLN) is ranked (at the moment) as the top 36th law blog in the world, and a top 10 law blog in the U.S.  It also happens to be the number one blog in personal injury law (just nudging ahead of the well known New York Personal Injury Law Blog).  

Alexa tells us which blogs have a lot of  "traffic," but is it a valid system for ranking law blogs?  I'd like to think so, given CLN's high ranking and its fast climb to the top rankings for a new law blog.  But others say that being popular does not equate to being influential or useful. 

What are the best indicators of success and recognition other than Alexa?   What list is considered to be the most credible and/or coveted list of top law blogs? 

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

 

Logo credit:   Avvo

Cruise Law News - One Year Anniversary!

On September 7, 2009, I launched my blog, Cruise Law News (CLN).  My goal was to be a leading source of news and legal commentary regarding the cruise industry.

Well, here we are, September 7, 2010, one year later.  What a year! 

My little blog is far more successful than I ever thought.  Yes, it has taken a lot of work - this is my 356th article in the last 365 days!  I have written about cruise ship rapes, sexual assaults of Cruise Law News - Jim Walker Law Blogchildren, arrest of peophiles, passenger disappearances, and cruise ship fires, groundings and sinkings.  Everything the cruise lines like to keep secret. 

From a quantitative perspective (per Alexa rankings), CLN is now ranked as the no. 1 maritime law blog in the U.S., the no. 2 law blog in Florida, the no. 2 personal injury blog in the U.S., and the 50th most popular law blog over-all in the U.S.  My websitegrader score is 99 (a grade I never received in school); there are 902 indexed pages of CLN on Google; and there are 48,230 inbound links.  I am averaging over 25,000 unique visitors a month, and my traffic is in the top 1.53% of all websites. 

And to add some icing to the cake, Cruise Law News is several times more popular that the official blog of the President of one of the major cruise line (Royal Caribbean) who writes from the "Nation Of Why Not?"  If you want transparent news, people know to come here to CLN rather than wade through the gobbledygook at the cruise line's corporate blog.  

Cruise Law News has been cited in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen magazine, the popular on line cruise community CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, Sun Sentinel, Washington Post, and MSNBC. 

Cruise Law News - Maritime Law Blog Our real success comes from our everyday readers - crew members, passengers, travel agents, cruise haters and cruise lovers.  We have heard from people in Great Britain, France, Mauritania, India, Venezuela, Brazil, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Canada and countries throughout the Caribbean islands.  Thanks for your questions and the valuable information you provided us!    

One big thank you is in order.  Kevin O'Keefe and his team at LexBlog created my site a year ago.  They are the best in the law blog business.  Lexblog designed a nice looking, functional blog. 

They provided concise recommendations to me, and encouraged me to blog.  Thanks Kevin for creating LexBlog and pointing me in the right direction! 

 

Here are some highlights of the fun we have had over the last year:             

Most popular article:  Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

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

Why-won't-the-Miami-Herald-cover-cruise-crimes article:  18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Royal Caribbean - Selling Sex at Sea Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship and Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger

Best social media article: Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

 

Do you have suggestions on topics to cover for the next year?   Please let us hear from you in the comments below. 

Cruise Law: Back From Vacation & Into The Frying Pan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will win this dispute. 

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

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

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

Cruise Law News - The Most Popular Maritime Law Blog in the World

OK time to brag a bit.  Today my blog was added to Avvo's "Top Legal Blogs."  Cruise Law News is currently the 55th most popular law blog in the United States.  The blog has been the highest climbing law blog this year.  

For bloggers like me, that's exciting news.  Blogs are vehicles for education and ultimately social and political change.  The higher ranked a blog becomes, the greater the opportunity for it to be read.

Cruise Law News was launched just over 9 months ago.  So in the blog world, it's still a baby.  My  readers and subscribers have increased every month.  It is by far the the highest ranked blog, or Cruise Law News - Maritime Law Blog website for that matter, which covers maritime law.  I expect it to become a top 25 law blog by the end of the year.

My blog has been instrumental in educating the public about what really happens during cruises.  We publish the type of information that the cruise lines don't want you to know about. 

There are a number of blogs published by the cruise lines.  Royal Caribbean's president, Adam Goldstein, has a pretty popular blog called Why Not?  But it is 90% marketing PR.  Not surprisingly, it's also less popular than Cruise Law News.  Many more readers are coming to this blog to read articles about Royal Caribbean than to the cruise president's own site.    

An integral part of the blog are comments from passengers and crew members who are on the cruise ships.  For example, read the incredible comments about novovirus on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, and a crew member lost overboard from the Oasis of the Seas.      

You won't find this type of information on any of the official cruise line blogs or websites. 

If you want happy talk and gobbledygook, subscribe to the "Why Not" blog.  But if you're interested in the inside word on what's really happening in the cruise industry - keep reading Cruise Law News.

 

Don't forget to subscribe by typing your email address in the box at the bottom left.  Or sign up for a RSS feed.  Thanks for your support!

CruiseLaw Meets LexBlog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Credits:

Tobacco Road   Kevin O'Keefe

CruiseLaw Launches Cruise Blog "CruiseLaw News"

In 1999, I launched CruiseLaw.com - a legal web site focused on the cruise industry. The need for such a web site was obvious. Passengers sexually assaulted or injured on cruise ships operated by Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, or Royal Caribbean are required to bring their claims in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The internet provides an easy way for passengers living in California, Kansas or New York to locate a maritime lawyer in South Florida for advice.

CruiseLaw in 1999 - No Shortage of Horror Stories

Within a year, we were representing over 50 passengers who had been seriously injured on cruise ships or shore excursions. It was disturbing to see the large number of injured passengers and to hear their stories about how the cruise lines treated them after their injuries. Worse still was the large number of women and children raped or molested by crew members where the cruise line tried to cover up the incidents.

We have seen cruise ship fires, "missing" passengers and crew members, and accidents of every sort - both on the cruise ships and during shore excursions. 

500 Cruise Clients Later - A Perspective to Share

Now ten years and around 500 clients later, I am launching this blog - called "CruiseLaw News." I will report on breaking cruise news every day. The blog will provide insightful legal commentary regarding cruise passengers and crew members around the world. No ghost writers here, you will hear directly from me. The cruise lines won’t be pleased. Travel agents may cringe. You will learn about issues that the cruise industry PR machine and the happy-go-lucky cruise fanatics don’t want you to know.

Post Your Comments - Pro or Con

This blog will not be a one way street. You are encouraged to post your comments. Please express your genuine feelings and opinions. No editing will take place. The only rules are to be civil. Hopefully, be original and thoughtful.  And, preferably, get to the point

Check back for my first blog, and we will get into things. In the interim, stay in touch with me on Twitter @CruiseLaw and see where I stand on the latest cruise fiasco.