Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 100,000 "Likes"

100000 Facebook LikesThis week, our social media presence reached a milestone. 

The Cruise Law News Facebook page reached 100,000 "likes."

The majority of our Facebook fans are from outside of the U.S. We have tens of thousands of crew members who have "liked" us. We receive a great deal of information from crew members regarding a wide range of issues, like cruise ship fires, engine failures, man-overboard situations and the tough working conditions which crew members face.

Thank you very much for reading our page and providing information to us!  Our success would not be possible without the support of crew members on cruise ships around the world!

We have over 11,900 people following us on Twitter and many thousands of people who subscribe to our daily blog, Cruise Law News, via e-mail & RSS subscriptions.

Over 6,250,000 pages of Cruise Law News are projected to be read this year.

We are the 3rd most popular law blog (per AVVO rankings) in the U.S. and the 2nd most popular cruise blog which discusses cruise ship issues (again, per AVVO rankings).  

Cruise Law NewsThe motto of our  blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

No, we are not a travel site with glossy photos of happy crew members and smiling passengers enjoying a dream vacation cruise. The fact that millions of people are reading a critical blog by a lawyer (lawyers often write boring, stuffy articles) reflects that there are a lot of things that happen on cruises which the public wants to know and the cruise lines want to keep secret. 

Thanks for reading us!  And thanks to the many passengers and crew members who have sent us tips, photos and videos of things like hiding food from the USPH inspectors or dumping garbage at sea which no one would otherwise know about . . .   

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

50,000 Facebook Fans Can't Be Wrong

This morning Cruise Law News hit a milestone when the 50,000th person "liked" our Facebook page.  

The motto of this blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." One of our main goals is to educate the public about dangers and problems on cruise ships that the cruise industry would like to keep secret. So it's exciting to see that many people become a fan of our Facebook page.  

We post most of our blogs on Facebook as well as links to other sites which write about newsworthy (and sometimes not so newsworthy) events in the crazy world of cruising.  Unlike our other social Cruise Law News Facebookmedia pages like Twitter which has almost exclusively a U.S. audience, our Facebook Cruise-Law-News page has primarily non-U.S. readers. 

Who are the top readers outside of the U.S.? In order they are from India, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, Croatia and Serbia, as well as many other countires.

Why the reference to "50,000 fans can't be wrong?" It's a take-off on the famous Elvis Presley album "50,000,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong."  (OK so I'm only 49,950,000 behind Elvis).

Thanks to everyone who like our Facebook page, read our articles, and leave comments! 

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

Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 25,000 "Likes"

A few minutes ago, Cruise Law News hit a milestone with the 25,000th person "liking" our page on facebook.

For the longest time, our involvement with social media involved mostly this blog and our feed on Twitter, CruiseLaw.  

What I have observed this year is that our Twitter feed (with over 10,000 followers) is largely followed by cruise passengers, travel agents and cruise line employees. Most of the people on Twitter who follow us reside in the U.S. In contrast, our facebook page is mostly "liked" by many thousands of crew members from around the world. We have made friends with lots of crew members from India, Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship Crew MembersRomania, Croatia, Serbia and Jamaica on facebook.   

The other thing that I have noticed is that crew members and other friends from outside the U.S. are far more likely to interact with us on facebook.  They leave comments on facebook. The people who read our articles and interact with us on facebook far outreach the number of people who socialize with us on twitter or contact us after subscribing to this blog.

For example, after a number of crew members went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships a few months ago, I posted a couple of comments asking whether Royal Caribbean was working its crew members too hard.  One of the posts was read by over 350,000 people on facebook.  Another posting about the working conditions on Celebrity cruise ships was read by over 100,000 people. We also had many hundreds of comments to these articles, mostly by crew members who have first hand knowledge of what "ship life" is really like.

Crew members are the backbone of our law practice.  Yes we have assisted many hundreds of cruise passengers over the years. But the majority of our clients are crew members (like the crew member above from Trinidad).

Whether they are crew members or not, the biggest supporters of this blog reside outside of the U.S.  The last four people to "like" our page were "Raja" from India, "Natalija" from Croatia, "Novi" from Bosnia & Herzegovina, with "J.J." from South Africa being the 25,000th person to like our page. I have learned that the international community has a different perspective about things than Americans do. People outside the U.S. are far more sympathetic to the hard times many crew members face.  Most Americans, on the other hand, just want a nice cruise vacation. Long hours and low pay are not their concerns.   

Crew members often leave us messages on facebook, asking us for help or informal advice about their rights on cruise ships. Often crew members from places like India, Indonesia or the Caribbean islands have no one to turn to for information while working long contracts on the high seas far away from home. Problems with supervisors, long hours, bad medical care, prejudice & sexual harassment put crew members in a stressful situation. We are pleased to respond without any obligation. We hope that we can help you.

Our blog is read over a million times each year. Thanks for helping us spread the word on facebook. If you have information about working conditions on cruise ships and things that need fixing in the cruise industry, send us tips. We promise to maintain your confidentiality.  

If you are a cruise ship employee, thanks for "liking" us on facebook and reading this blog. If it is helpful to you, recommend us to a friend. Share our articles with your past or present crew member friends. Help us get the word out about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

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.

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?

Have You Liked Us On Facebook Yet?

Cruise Law News has been on line since September 2009.  We have several thousand people who subscribed via e-mail, RSS or Google Reader.  A little over !0,000 people have followed us on Twitter over the last three years. Most of the subscribers and Twitter followers are from the U.S. with many travel agents, cruise planners, and regular cruisers reading the blog. 

But our readership has changed dramatically over the last several months. In June, I started posting information regularly on Cruise Law News' facebook page. I've added lots of stories and photos which are not in my blog.

Since June, over 13,000 people have liked us on facebook. The majority of the new readers are from Europe, South America and India. From Europe, we have seen an unprecedented number of people from Romania, Serbia and Croatia liking us. Many are crew members or former crew members.   We receive more comments to our face book page than on my blog.

If you haven't done so, consider going to our facebook page and clicking the like button.  Leave us a comment and give us your thoughts about our page.

Thanks for reading . . . 

 

Costa Concordia - Cruise Ship

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 . . . 

Cruise Law - Coming to a Theater Near You!

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

Consider the news in the world of cruising this year. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!"

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!    

Cruise Law: Miami Cruise Ship Law Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruise Law News: 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 Goes Mobile

Yesterday I bought a Blackberry PlayBook.  Small and compact and new to the market, the PlayBook is supposed to compete with the iPad 2.  Its screen is only 3 and 1/2 by 6 inches.  It has everything on it.  I can blog, prepare legal pleadings, and email outside of the office.  The PlayBook also has a camera which takes crystal clear photos and video. 

This is the first blog I have written away from my office or home office.

I will be traveling on vacation with my family for the next three weeks and I wanted to be sure to have a notebook that was tethered to my Blackberry handheld and the office computers.  The PlayBook seems to be the right choice.  I tried the iPad 2 but it would not support my blogging platform.  The PlayBook works great.  I can use the touchscreen keypad or a larger wireless keypad. 

Even though I will be on the road for the next three weeks, there will be no interruption of Cruise Law News articles.  So please stay in touch.  If you know about an interesting issue involving the cruise industry, please contact me.  Let me turn your tip into a story that a hundred thousand people will read.

Cruise Law News - Blackberry PlayBook

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 RoundUp - Monday June 13, 2011

This past week has been a busy time for our firm with many international news stories being published about the cruise industry.

Jim Walker - Jamaica - Cruise Ship LawyerOur firm is off and running with our advertising in Jamaica.  We spent Sunday fielding questions from prospective clients in response to our ads in local Sunday newspapers.   We are in discussions with advertisers in other Caribbean countries where injured and disabled crewmembers are abandoned by Miami-based cruise lines.

Our firm received a fair amount of press in the last week.  We were quoted in the Los Angles Times (discussed below) regarding a major cruise story.  The South Florida Business Journal and the U.K.'s Telegraph mentioned Cruise Law News' article about the bizarre 7 hour interrogation of British passengers by the U.S. Customs and Border police. 

it seems like some over-zealous Federal agents in Los Angeles mistook the geriatric British passengers on the luxury cruise ship as al-Qaida terrorists and subjected them to a nightmarish situation where the 2,000 elderly passengers underwent detailed passport checks, extensive background interviews, and biometric checks, including fingerprints of both hands and Interrogation Cruise Ship Passengersretina scans after standing in the heat for 7 hours.  You can read about the misguided way our Federal government treats tourists in my blog U.S. Customs Officials Take Revenge Against Elderly British Cruise Passengers?

Turning to more serious legal news, last Friday a Federal Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by Oceania Cruises to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a 13 year old child raped on the Regatta cruise ship.   

Can you imagine having your child raped during a vacation cruise and then have the cruise line try to limit its liability for damages to only $65,000?  Only a cruise line could handle its PR like this.  You can read about the case here.    

The major event this weekend involved the Los Angeles Times' article about the sad tale and continuing mystery of missing youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Written by Corina Knoll, the LA Times article is entitled "Bereft Parents' Loss is as Deep as the Ocean."  It contains an iconic photograph (bottom) of Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, standing at the dock in San Pedro as the Wonder cruise ship sailed off for another cruise to the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship - Disappearance Rebecca CoriamMexican Riviera.  The Coriam family returned to Chester England with no answers regarding what happened to their daughter.  You can read our article here about the many questions which remain unanswered by this disturbing case.  

It amazes me that parents on the next cruise would drop off their kids to the care of youth counselors on the Disney cruise ship, after one of the counselors "vanished" during the last cruise.  How can a young woman completely "disappear" from the Magical Kingdom's cruise ship with no CCTV cameras capturing the events.  Are there "blind spots" in the CCTV cameras coverage of the ship?  Not a good idea on a cruise ship catering to family vacations with kids.  Does Disney have a serious problem with its security cameras?   Or do the cameras work just fine, but Disney is hiding information?     

The LA Times' article referred to our firm, as well as Congresswoman Doris Matsui who was instrumental in Congress' passage of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

A disturbing  issue with this latest cruise disappearance is that Disney Cruise Line is incorporated in the U.K. and Ms. Coriam is from England as well, but a single policeman from the Bahamas is involved in the "investigation" because the Disney Wonder flies a flag of convenience from that third Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Cruise Lineworld country.  There is something wrong when a British citizen hired by a British corporation to work on a U.S. based cruise ship disappears, and no U.S. or U.K. agencies are allowed to board the cruise ship to investigate. 

This suits Disney Cruise Lines just fine.  They can work behind the scenes, as the policeman in the Bahamas sits in the police station in Nassau pretending to investigate what happened on a cruise ship sailing between LA and Mexico. Meanwhile, the Coriam family remains in England with no answers. 

I suppose that our U.S. Federal agents in Los Angeles could do a better job investigating the case of missing British citizen Rebecca Coriam.  But then again, they probably are busy harassing elderly British cruise tourists. 

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

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!

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. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Cruise Law News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. 

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'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 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 News Round-Up: A Cruise Billionaire, Cruise Industry Lies, Royal Caribbean Monkey Business, and Good News For Cruise Law News

This week was another interesting week in the strange world of cruise law.  Just consider:

A Cruise CEO With Billions of Dollars But No Soul?

Carnival Cruise's CEO Billionaire Mickey Arison was named the richest man in Florida again by Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise CEO - Billions for him - Peanuts for Crew Fortune magazine with a net worth of $4,100,000,000.  So why does he pay his injured and ill crew members slave wages of only $12 a day? 

Arison owns the Miami Heat and is paying basketball stars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, but he treats his crew employees like dog crap.  

Arison and the other cruise line tycoons Leon Black and the Pritzker families are stereotypes of greedy shipping executives.  Earlier this year I wrote about these Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires.  Here we are again with these billionaires counting their pennies.  

Billions for me, peanuts for the crew.  

More Lies By the Cruise Line International Association

The notorious Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), which rivals the former communist regimes of Russia in trying to control the flow of information (Pravda anyone?), released a major marketing PR effort this week to promote itself as a green industry.  CEO Arison is quoted as saying that the cruise industry is "committed to the highest environmental standards through cutting-edge environmental policies, procedures, technologies . . . "

Ha.

The truth is that Arison and CLIA fought tooth and nail this year to avoid Alaska's high wastewater restrictions.  A green company?  Hardly.  CLIA opposes the Clean Air Law and its cruise ships are still burning nasty bunker fuel.  Technologies needed to meet the "highest" wastewater and emission standards cost money, that billionaire Arison has historically avoided spending unless forced to do so.     

Bunker Fuel - CLIA - Cruise Line International AssociationAt the same time CLIA issued its grandiose environmental press statement, numerous newspapers published articles revealing that the cruise industry still has a long, long way to go to protect the seas in which its cruise ships still pollute: "Cruise Ships Continue Dumping Sewage,"  "The Dark Side of Cruising: Waste Disposal," and "Cruise Ships Continue to Foul the Baltic Sea."

More Monkey Business By Royal Caribbean

My blog this week contained two of my most widely read articles over the course of the last year.  Royal Caribbean's Deep Throat focused on the corruption in Royal Caribbean's risk management department.  

The "Deep Throat" article about the cruise line's indifference toward its own corrupt employee should be read in contrast to the cruise line's diabolical conduct toward a former cruise line lawyer who decided to "switch sides" and represent injured passengers and crew members - Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides.  This article was widely circulated by email within Royal Caribbean's legal department and its outside law firm who are teaming up in a campaign of malicious prosecution against our firm.

The "Deep Throat" article was named as one of the "best in blogs" by LexBlog yesterday.

More Good News For Cruise Law News (CLN)

Speaking of the best blogs, CLN has reached another milestone as one of the most read legal blogs in the U.S.  Three months ago, I was excited to mention that this blog was the 55th most popular legal blog per the Alexa rankings and was rising fast. I predicted by the end of the year that CLN's popularity would place it in the top 25 law blogs.

Well today Alexa's ranking shows that CLN moved up from the 55th to the 32nd most popular law blog.   

It seems that the public is hungry for a source of information about cruising other than the slick corporate statements from billionaire executives and bogus facts from the cruise industry's PR people. 

 

Interested in how your blog or website is ranked?  Click here and download the Alexa toolbar.  It will take 20 seconds . . .

Credits:  Mickey Arison - David Adame AP (via Cruise Blog)

Today

Today, legal marketing expert Paula Black featured me on her blog Law Marketing Results: A Big Congratulations - talking about Cruise Law News (CLN)'s one year anniversary.

Today, my blog CLN is ranked as the no. 1 blog regarding maritime law and no. 1 blog regarding personal injury law pursuant to the AVVO / Alexa ranking system.  Alexa ranks us as the 36th most popular law blog overall.  The ranking system is far from perfect and there are far better blogs than mine which are ranled below CLN, but it is fun to see the ranking of blogs. 

Today, we were retained by two Royal Caribbean crew members and a Carnival passenger in cruise line injury cases.  It is clear that the cruise lines are indifferent to caring about people injured on their cruise ships.  It is the reason we are in business of practicing maritime law.

Today, the settlement in the George Smith disappearance case was finally disclosed to the public, over 5 years following his tragic death.  You have not heard the last of this sad case.

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 Goes On Vacation

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

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

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

Cruise Law - Cruise Ship Law

 

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.

 

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