It's been six years since I joined Twitter. Long ago, I wrote an article about how it came to be that I joined what at the time seemed like little more than a fad. Cruise Law Meets Twitter.
Twitter is now clearly a monster in the world of social media with a value in the billions of dollars. My partner mentioned that she is about to buy Twitter stock. There are rumors that Google may buy it.
I learned that if you are looking for breaking news, Twitter will beat the cable news every time. Regarding cruise news, I will often first hear about a ship fire or an overboard passenger on Twitter, often while the cruise ship is still at sea.
In June 2009, shortly after I joined Twitter, I learned how valuable Twitter is to reporting cruise ships news that the cruise lines try and keep secret. The engine room of Princess Cruises' Royal Princess caught fire during a Mediterranean cruise near Egypt. Princess initially didn't release any information to the public. But a passenger, a Pastor from South Carolina, Greg Surratt, tweeted on his Twitter account @GregSurratt about the fire from his iPhone on the cruise ship.
Reverend Surratt tweeted that the fire had disabled the cruise ship and a tug had to tow the ship back to port. Frantic families in the U.S. had to rely on Pastor Surratt for information about their loved ones. He even tweeted photos of the fire and the passengers sprawling out on the deck in the dark (left).
When Princess finally posted its typical less-than-forthcoming corporate press statement, no one was paying attention to the cruise line. Everyone was listening to Pastor Surratt tweeting away on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean.
I first learned of other cruise disasters (Costa Concordia, Carnival Triumph, etc.) on Twitter.
I have over 12,000 Twitter followers. I tweeted over 15,000 times over the course of 6 years. That's an average of over 2,500 a year.
Cruise Law News just celebrated our five year anniversary.
It's difficult to remember a time when we did not have a blog to comment on the ins-and-outs of the cruise industry and the ports of call where the cruise ships unload their passengers. Since 2009, I've written over 2,100 articles and received over 8,000 comments from our readers.
In 2014, Cruise Law News has been mentioned in over one hundred newspapers, television programs, cable news program, and radio shows. We have broken many stories that the cruise industry would have preferred that we not mention, such as MSC Cruises dumping garbage bag in the seas, Royal Caribbean exploiting its crew members and Carnival cutting employment programs that existed for years while the cruise CEO's racked in the cash.
Our motto remains writing about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know," and we believe that we have lived up to that goal.
Our blog is ranked the fourth most popular law blog in the United States and the number one law blog authored by a law firm as opposed to a for-profit commercial website.
A year ago at our fourth year anniversary, I wrote that "1,000,000 different people read over 3,500,000 pages of our blog in the last 12 months." We have far exceeded those numbers in 2014. In just the first four days of this month alone, over 86,000 unique users have read over 239.000 pages of our website. We have a readership which substantially exceeds the paid circulation of the newspaper of the town where I was born.
Our Facebook page has over 126,000 followers, mostly crew members as well as cruise passengers and travel agents who wish to remain anonymous. We receive many thousand of comments a month. We routinely receive real-time insights into problems on cruise ships from passengers and the crew.
You either love us or hate us.
I receive more than my fair share of hate e-mail. However, many people write to us and thank us for bringing attention to issues such as crew members working 12 hour a day for just $550 a month or sexual assaults of children on the "fun ships," the cruise industry's dirtiest secret. We warn passengers about crime in the tropical ports of call where the cruise lines collect millions of dollars of tax-free money.
We have followed our clients to testify before Congress to advocate in support of legislation to protect cruise passengers and write about the experiences as they occur.
There's always the other side of the cruise story. We try to be the first to tell it.
This year we stayed in Miami. Lots of family members and friends came over. Kids splashing in the pool is a fun backdrop to turkey day. We had a blast.
We have a lot to be thankful for, like my great aunt Anita, just 89 years old, and my in-laws Dr. O'Neill and Ms. O'Neill, who are approaching their mid-80's, and my Mom who is only 79, and is getting around pretty good now that she lives here in South Florida with us. The words lively, active, brisk, and vigorous come to mind whenever I see them.
We are thankful for our children who are healthy. My oldest son finished his second homemade skateboard and took off this afternoon with me yelling at him to buckle his helmet. My youngest son trounced me one-on-one in basketball. When I demanded a re-match, he shut me out in front of the elders who seemed to be cheering for the youngest in the family. I'm not even going to try and take my older son on. When did they get taller, faster, and can shoot better than me?
I am thankful for my wife (and law partner). I'm blessed to be with someone who's not only a heck of a lot smarter than me but who can cook for 23 without stressing out a bit. Yes, that's her, standing where she should be - in the middle.
I am thankful for my co-counsel Jonathan Aronson and his wife Ilene who have been a constant support for our firm, and me personally, day in and day out.
I am thankful for my brother and sister and their families, who couldn't be with us this year, but are in my thoughts every day.
We are thankful for our clients who live across the U.S. and all over the world. We are blessed to have clients from the U.K., Germany, Russia, Croatia, Serbia, India, Honduras, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Bahamas, South Africa and Mexico. (If I have forgotten someone's home country please email me and give me a hard time.)
Take a moment on this day of Thanksgiving and be thankful for your family and friends. Count your blessings.
Cruise ship issues in Europe dominated the world of cruise news this week.
An explosion in the engine room of the Nordlys cruise ship, operated by Hurtigruten, resulted in a fire and the evacuation of the ship off of Norway. Half of the 200 or so passengers were evacuated in lifeboats and the other half got off the cruise ship when the vessel was towed to port. All passengers were safe but unfortunately two 2 crewmembers died and many were injured.
Whenever a cruise ship explodes or catches on fire, there is always a cruise / travel columnist who feels compelled to publish an article insisting that such cruise calamities are rare. This time it was Jane Archer, a cruise fan and columnist who writes for the Telegraph Travel. Her puff piece article Hurtigruten Fire: How Safe is Your Cruise? claims that "incidents like this are few and far between."
The problem with this claim is that just last year an engine room fire caused the evacuation of over 600 passengers and crew in Norwegian waters.
That incident involved the German cruise ship Deutschland. And just last November a cruise ferry, the Pearl of Scandinavia, erupted in fire off of Norway while filled with cars and passengers (photo left).
The other big development in Europe involved the parents of missing Disney Cruises youth counselor Rebecca Coriam meeting with the U.K. Shipping Minister to discuss enacting legislation to permit the U.K. to become involved in the investigation when British citizens disappear on foreign flagged cruise ship around the world. Mike and Ann Coriam of Chester England are understandably upset with the lack of information from the cruise line and the single policeman from the Bahamas who is charged with investigating the disappearance.
While the Coriam family was working to make cruising safer for the U.K. public, another cruise passenger disappeared from the Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship. Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew. We reported on the unexplained disappearance of another passenger from the Balmoral last year. The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.
On a lighter personal note, the season finally started for my younger son's JV football team. Gulliver was trounced by rival Belen Jesuit, but my son got to play running back, split end and corner back. He ran across the field and got a big hit on Belen's running back at the one yard line to save the touchdown. Watch the play to the end!
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. I 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.
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.
Six months ago, I launched Cruise Law News. My goal was to be the go-to source for breaking "cruise law" news with articles filled with with my own unabashed opinion regarding the cruise industry.
The first month I had 964 people stumble upon the blog. I was ecstatic! Thirty people a day actually looked at my blog and took the time to read a few pages!
Since then, I have written feverishly - averaging over a blog a day - for six months. My subscriptions have exploded and the number of people reading the blog has increased exponentially.
Over 51,000 readers visited Cruise Law Newslast month alone. We have been contacted by reporters from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the Caribbean islands - as well as local and national newspapers and television networks in the U.S.
One of the most rewarding things about the blog is that cruise passengers are now contacting us before they cruise - to inquire about the safety and security of their family on cruises, which cruise lines are safe and which cruise ships to avoid - rather than after they have been victimized. Our blog is helping get the word out there about the issue of cruise crimes which most Americans know nothing about.
I would like to think that the success of this blog is due to my hard work, getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to write, as well as my keen insight and biting commentary. But, no. That would not be true at all. Its the cruise industry's incredible shenanigans which drive readers to Cruise Law News.
So thanks to the cruise industry, with all of its shameless tax-avoiding executives, high paid lobbyists and deceptive PR firms, and its consistently ambiguous moral compass - for making my little blog a huge success.
It finally happened. After 8 years, my Blackberry finally died. Not a natural death mind you, but due to my negligence in leaving it on a lawn chair Friday evening after I enjoyed a glass of wine with my spouse.
Our sprinkler timer kicked on Saturday morning and, after a 20 minute water cycle, my friend was soaked to the circuits.
My Blackberry has been my primary method of communication since 2002. I receive over 100 e-mails a day so I figure it handled 300,000 emails over the years - plus more than my fair share of google alerts, text messages and even an occasional telephone call or two.
But it didn't have a camera. No video or GPS either. Compared to the sleek iPhones everyone whips out these days, it was kinda like a four-door Ford sedan. Boring but reliable.
It has been eerily quiet this weekend. No calls, no checking the crackberry every 5 minutes, no frantic texting to clients who have become accustomed to communicating on the weekends.
So long old friend. Should I bring you back? Or is it time for an upgrade? I think that I'll be a traitor and give an iPhone OS 4 a try.
Or maybe I'll just enjoy the silence for another day.
Last week I met Kevin O'Keefe. Kevin is the genius behind LexBlog which designs and creates law blogs and supports legal bloggers like myself. If you like the design and functionality of this blog, thank Kevin. His team designed it.
Kevin's company also runs LexMonitor, the best round-up of legal blogs around, as well as LexTweet which tracks lawyers who use Twitter. Kevin also has an award winning blog "Real Lawyers Have Blogs" which is something every ahead-of-the-curve-lawyer should read.
Kevin was in Miami speaking at a convention and announced an-after-hours "beer for bloggers" get together at Tobacco Road via his blog and Twitter page. For those of you not familiar with Miami, Tobacco Road is the oldest bar in Miami, with liquor license no. 001, and a relaxing place to hang out.
It was a nice time. Some of the lawyers drove for a couple of hours to Miami to make it.
Kevin is an inspiring story. He was a real life lawyer and trial attorney in rural Wisconsin and then created Prairie Law (which he sold to Lexis). He hit his stride by moving to Seattle to create his LexBlog success. His company supports something like 3,000 law firms, from blogging law students to solo lawyers to the Am Law 200 big law firms. LexBlog is an impressive network and helps small law firms like mine be the proverbial big fish in the small pond.
I remember last year when I was searching for a company to host my blog. I emailed and then spoke to the people at LexBlog. I thought that I was interviewing them to see if they were going to meet my blog requirements. Half-way through the 30 minute conversation, I realized that they were interviewing me to see if I met their criteria.
My first blog on Lexblog was on September 10th last year. Things started slowly. Maybe only 20 or 30 people a day stumbled on to my blog, probably by accident. But I'm now 171 days and 173 blogs down the road (who's counting?) Last week alone, over 14,000 different people viewed over 25,000 pages on this little blog. Not bad.
More importantly, the blog has been cited in national law journals, local newspapers in Florida, and news sources in Europe and the Caribbean.
Thanks LexBlog. And next time I'll buy the beer at Tobacco Road.
To see what other lawyers are saying about Kevin and LexBlog, consider reading "God Bless Mrs. O'Keefe" (pretty funny) by a South Carolina trial lawyer, David Swanner.
I was nominated for a "Shorty Award" in the #law peoples' choice category.
The official site of the Shorty Awards states that it honors "the best people and organizations on Twitter. These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community."
Online voting is public and supposedly democratic, "culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 26 official categories as well as those in brand new crowd sourced ones."
I was nominated a bit late. But, let's face it, i deserve it. I'm just joking, or am I?
To vote - click on the link here and vote for me for goodness sakes! You have to give a reason for voting for me:
"I vote for @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . .
So say something nice, like "because he looks like George Clooney" (not true), or "because he is a nice guy" (partially true), or "because his Mom & Dad are really nice people" (totally true). It does not matter, just say anything clever. I want to win this damn thing! Don't screw this up - I am counting on you!
I did the obligatory interview for the award which is below (I hope I sound clever):
What's your best tweet?
Royal Caribbean sails to its trademarked fantasy island of Labadee® as Haiti suffers . . .
What are six things you could never do without?
Coffee, beer, & the 4 hours between the 2 . . .
How do you use Twitter in your professional life?
If it involves a cruise, you will hear it from me first.
What's your favorite Twitter app?
Twitter or Facebook?
A machine gun or a pea shooter? I choose Twitter.
What was the funniest trend you've seen?
Once it's a trend it's no longer funny.
What feature should Twitter add?
Who do you wish had a Twitter feed but doesn't?
My Dad, the master story-teller, 80 years young.
What are some words or phrases you refuse to shorten for brevity?
Corporate malfeasance, flag-of-convenience.
Is there someone you want to follow you who doesn't already? If so, who?
Have you ever unfollowed someone? Who and why?
Yes, a few of those Do NOT Pay for White Teeth people snuck into my tent.
Why should we vote for you?
I had big ears, buck teeth, and stuttered in grade school - now I just stutter.
Terms you wish would start trending on Twitter right now?
Saints Win Superbowl.
What's the most interesting connection you've made through Twitter?
Cruise passenger tweeting on the deck of a burning cruise ship.
Hashtag you created that you wish everyone used?
How do you make your tweets unique?
Cruise law, cruise law, cruise law, no one does it as timely, consistently, or insightfully (my, I am modest).
What inspires you to tweet?
Herman Melville said something in Moby Dick about the mutual joint-stock world we live in . . .
Ever get called out for tweeting too much?
Not so far, I assume people just leave the party if they don't like my rants.
140 characters of advice for a new user?
Don't type in caps it is a sign of insanity.
How long can you go without a tweet?
1/2 circulation of the earth.
What question are we not asking here that we should?
Who should win the Shorty award other than you?
Who do you admire most for his or her use of Twitter?
@CruiseVictims - check it out.
Why'd you start tweeting?
I wondered what everyone was doing with their blackberries on TV during Obama's State of the Union speech.
Has Twitter changed your life? If yes, how?
Twitter intensified love/hate: my mother-in-law thinks I lost my mind, my kids think I'm brilliant.
What do you wish people would do more of on Twitter?
Use Twitter as vehicle for donations to non - profits.
Today, LexMonitor published an interview of me by Lisa Kennelly. For those of you-not-in-the-know, LexMonitor is run by super-law-blog-expert Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog which offers the best services in the universe for frustrated lawyers who feel the need to blog after working a-100-hour-week. The interviewer, Lisa Kennelly - a Harvard graduate! - asked me some questions about my new blog.
if I come back in another life, it will be a Harvard Graduate living in Seattle, a kick-ass city by any definition.
The Miami cruise law attorney has had a web presence since 1996, when he created his very first web site. A former defense attorney, he switched sides in 1999 and became an advocate for cruise ship passengers, years before the majority of Miami lawyers started marketing themselves as "cruise line lawyers."
And his blog, Cruise Law News? It only came into being after he had been hooked on Twitter - @CruiseLaw for several months and realized he needed a forum to write in more than 140 characters.
Each component of his online presence serves a different but equally valuable purpose.
"Most of my competitors are where I was ten years ago," Jim says, "creating ego sites that say they are fantastic without providing any useful information to the consumer and without even attempting to establish a dialog with the public. The Internet now requires an interactive exchange. So I am trying to use my blog to provide the most current and relevant information in my specialized field of law."
We caught up with Jim for this LexBlog Q&A to learn more about his online persona and how he uses his blog to beat the mainstream media to breaking news.
Lisa Kennelly: Why did you decide to start a blog?
Jim Walker: I became a blogger after becoming addicted to Twitter earlier this year.
In February, I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech. The gallery was filled with people twittering away on their Blackberries and iPhones, sending out their own spin on the President’s speech. CNN covered the story and added their own perspective via Twitter. A few days later I registered @CruiseLaw. In March, I started “tweeting.”
I became hooked. A dozen times a day, I tweeted my perspective about crimes on cruise ships, bad shipboard medical care, mysterious disappearances of passengers, and even attacks against cruise ships by pirates! Stuff so unbelievable that I couldn’t make it up. To my surprise, a large number of people in the cruise industry began following me – mostly cruise line manager types, travel agents, and PR people who disagree with anything negative I mentioned about cruising. In the process, a dialogue developed with people on the other-side-of-the-fence so to speak. I enjoyed it.
I also found a lot of kindred spirits who share my concerns about the negative environmental impact of cruising – things like cruise ship wastewater discharges, and air emissions of cruise ships which burn bunker fuels. The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible. A lot of “green travelers” like to read my tweets and I like to follow them too.
As you know, “tweeting” is just micro-blogging. My addiction grew beyond the 140 character limit of Twitter. I ran across Kevin’s blog and began following Kevin as well as LexBlog and LexMonitor on Twitter. And this led me to blogging. The LexBlog format fit my plans perfectly.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most rewarding about blogging?
Jim Walker: I blog about breaking “cruise news.” I was the only one in the U.S. who reported on the armed robbery of 11 cruise passengers in the Bahamas in October. I explained the legal liability of cruise lines who sell shore excursions but don’t warn their guests about high crime rate in ports of call. Last month, an additional 18 cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in the Bahamas after the cruise lines failed to warn the passengers about the first attack. I found a YouTube video of one of the passengers who had just been robbed, and posted the video and photographs on my blog. I broke two stories before any newspaper knew what happened! Soon “Cruise Law News” was being cited in major newspapers as the source of news.
Experiences like this are exciting and rewarding. We warn the public of dangers that the cruise lines like to keep secret. I embed my perspective into the news I write about. I am not a journalist. I am an advocate. And I enjoy reporting on news events with my own unique perspective.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most challenging?
Jim Walker: There is not enough time to blog, practice law and have a real life. I have a full trial practice with 100 injured clients at any time. I have a family, two growing boys and a spouse (who is also my law partner) plus four dogs. I started my blog a little over three months ago and I have written 100 articles. My articles are too long, too. I can’t help it – I come from a family of story tellers. I feel sometimes like I am making a closing argument and I can’t stop myself. I struggle getting to the point.
Lisa Kennelly: What has the response been to your blog from clients, other attorneys, or anyone else?
Jim Walker: It has been fantastic so far. My blog has 10 times the traffic of my website, CruiseLaw.com, which I started over ten years ago. My biggest disappointment is that few people post comments. I like people to voice their own views, particularly if they disagree with me.
Lisa Kennelly: You and your firm have had a web presence at CruiseLaw.com for an impressive 10 years now. How has the way you use the Internet changed since then.
Jim Walker: I actually created my first web site, called Walker-Law.com, in 1996. I was a defense lawyer. My site was very egocentric. I used my own name in the domain and advertised that I was great at defending cruise lines. But I found that passengers across the U.S. began e-mailing me asking me to sue one of the cruise lines here in Miami because they had been injured or raped. They found my site through the old search engines and didn’t care who I was or even that I defended cruise lines! In 1999, I switched sides and created CruiseLaw.com myself using a Windows FrontPage program. It is amateurish but effective. 100% of the cases we handle are against cruise lines and six of our clients have testified before Congress on cruise safety issues. I have not updated the CruiseLaw site for ten years (but have a much-needed new design coming out the first of next year).
Now every lawyer in Miami calls themselves a cruise line lawyer. Attorneys I have never heard of are are paying for click-throughs on Google. Most of my competitors are where I was ten years ago. Creating ego sites that say they are fantastic without providing any useful information to the consumer and without even attempting to establish a dialogue with the public. The Internet now requires an interactive exchange. So I am trying to use my blog to provide the most current and relevant information in my specialized field of law.
Lisa Kennelly: How do you use your website, your blog, and your Twitter account, both together or individually, to market yourself and your firm?
Jim Walker: My website is like an online resume. Not much real information is on it. Just a description of who we are and what we do. The real marketing now comes from my blog. I still mini-blog on Twitter. I link to the other people who are shaping the daily debate on cruise issues. When I finish my blog, I post a link on Twitter. There are usually a hundred people who will quickly read it to see what I am rambling about. I take a lot of photos of our clients and cruise ships that I sue and post them on my Flickr page.
Whenever another cruise passenger goes overboard, people know where to find me.
"Everything the cruise lines don't want you to know" is the motto of this award winning maritime law blog authored by Miami lawyer Jim Walker.
The New York Times describes Jim as "a maritime lawyer in Miami who has attended more than half a dozen Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety." Jim has been involved in maritime litigation since 1983. Based in Miami, Florida, Jim represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships around the world. He is interviewed frequently when there are fires and mishaps at seas. He is asked to appear regularly on television programs and share his views of disasters at sea.
In 2016, Jim has continued as one of the "go to" maritime lawyers when things go wrong on the high seas.
The GO-TO CRUISE LAW ATTORNEY - FEATURED IN HUNDREDS OF TELEVISION, CABLE NEWS, RADIO, DOCUMENTARY, MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND PROGRAMS ABOUT CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND CONTROVERSIES
In 2012, Jim appeared on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date. He also appeared on CNN's special "Cruise to Disaster" which explored the Concordia disaster.
Jim attended Duke University and graduated cum laude in 1980. He attended Tulane University School of Law, graduating in 1983 after taking Tulane’s internationally renowned admiralty curriculum.
Jim has experience regarding issues of cruise ship crime and sexual assault. Over the past ten years, he has represented over 1,000 clients including over 75 individuals who have been victimized on cruise ships, cruise excursions and ports of call. Six of Jim’s clients have testified before the United States Congress regarding cruise ship safety. Jim has handled the following cases in the past ten years:
The case of Laurie Dishman, sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. Her case resulted in changes to the cruise industry and the introduction of the Cruise Ship Safety and Security Act of 2010.
The “Missing Honeymooner Case” involving the disappearance of George Smith IV of Greenwich Connecticut from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship. Jim represented Mr. Smith’s widow, Jennifer Hagel.
Over 75 sexual assault cases against women and children on cruise ships, resulting in many million and multi-million dollars settlements.
The 2006 Star Princess fire disaster. The cruise ship fire resulted in one hundred cabins being destroyed and the death of one passenger, Richard Liffridge. Jim represented Mr. Liffridge’s family in litigation against Princess Cruises in California.
Numerous cases involving serious injury and death of passengers and crew members aboard Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
Jim is married to Lisa O’Neill who he met while they were undergraduates in college thirty years ago. Jim and Lisa are also law partners.
Lisa is also a Duke cum laude graduate, and attended the University of Florida School of Law in Gainesville, Florida. She served on Law Review as the Senior Articles Editor, won the prestigious Gertrude Brick Award, and graduated cum laude. Jim and Lisa work on all cases together.
In 1999, the firm created the web site CruiseLaw.com as an information resource for passengers and crew members worldwide. Here is what some publications are saying about Jim Walker:
"King of anti-cruise tirades . . . his impressive background and litigation record against cruise lines must be taken seriously." - Travel Weekly.
"Perpetual Pain-In-The-Cruise-Lines-Neck Jim Walker" - Gadling.
"A well-known thorn in the side of cruise lines" - Cruising Done Right (travel agent publication).
Lexblog names Cruise Law News "Blog of the Year" writing: ". . . no attorney’s passion shows through more than Jim Walker’s in his blog, Cruise Law News. Not only is he an advocate for cruise passengers, but also a fervent watchdog for the industry as a whole. His 2014 included, among a multitude of accomplishments, traveling to Washingto, DC to back Senator Rockefeller’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act and forcing government officials in the Bahamas to have to answer to their ranking on the Top 10 worst destinations."
Jim is the author of Cruise Law News - described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.
LexBlog says "Walker is the world’s leading reporter on deaths, injuries, and safety matters relating to the cruise industry. Via his blog, he not only reports the news, but is the de facto cruise industry watchdog."
Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar (former member)
United States District Courts, Eastern District of Louisiana and Southern District of Florida
Media, Television, Radio, Magazines and Newspapers
Jim and his clients have been featured on television, cable news and radio shows, as well as in documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles.
ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, 20/20, Larry King Live, A & E Investigative Reports, Hannity & Colmes, Greta Van Sustern, Nancy Grace, Inside Edition, Julie Banderas, Big Story Weekend, CourtTV, Catherine Crier, Montel Williams, Joe Scarborough, Rita Cosby, Mike & Juliet, Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Bloom, Dan Abrams, UK’s BBC-Radio 4, Heartland w/John Kasich, E! Entertainment, TruTV, Canada’s CATV-5, Good Morning America, TIME Magazine, National Law Journal, RADAR Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly USA, Miami Herald, American Law Media, Tradewinds, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel, Miami Business Review, LA Times, NY Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Florida Today, Daytona Beach Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, Greenwich Times, Greenwich Citizen, Greenwich Post, San Francisco Chronicle, U.K.'s Telegraph, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, U.K. Mirror, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen, CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Open Secrets organization, Queerty, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, Gadling, FOX Business, Slate Magazine, ABA Journal, Australia's The Age, Attorney at Law Magazine, Huffington Post, U.K.'s Daily Mail, BBC, Freeport (Bahamas) News, Haaretz, Trip Advisor, Wikipedia, Palm Beach Post, India Times, E Turbo News, Global Travel News, Comunidade News (Brazil), Canada's CTV, OutFront with CNN's Erin Burnett, Slate, The Daily, London's Financial Times, Newsweek Magazine, Newsweek's The Daily Beast Blog, Fund Web, Reuters, Consumer Affairs, Australia's Herald Sun, Canada's NewsTalk 1010 Radio, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Tampa Bay Business Journal, Perez Hilton, Business Insider, Greenwich Magazine, Herald Sun, CNN Money, the Australian newspaper, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times, Maritime Executive, Businessweek, Bloomberg, Alaska Dispatch, Minnesota Post, Virgin Islands Daily News, Arizona Republic, Trip Advisor, Daily Kos, Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper, Antigua Observer, N.Y. Daily News, U.K.'s Daily Mail, UPI, Inquisitr, Christian Post, KTIC Radio, Cordova Times, Bloomberg News, Business Insider, Times of Malta, CNN Opinion, Wall Street Journal Blog. Newsday, CBC Radio (Canada), American Public Media Market Place, WGN Radio (Chicago) Chicago Tribune, WWL Radio (Miami), CNBC Squawk on the Street, WIOD Radio (Miami) and the Associated Press have all covered Jim’s cases and his client's causes.
Watch Jim on ABC's 20/20 program in January 2012 about the Costa Concordia disaster:
Watch Jim on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Seas" in March 2012 about cruise ship disappearances:
Maritime & admiralty lawyer & attorney James M. Walker of Walker & O'Neill Law Firm, offering services related to injuries, sexual assaults, fires, negligence, rapes & disappearances on cruise ships, pirate & terrorist attacks, missing passengers, shore excursions, wrongful death and the Jones Act, serving cruise passengers, crew members, cabin attendants, utility workers, waiters, bar tenders, ship doctors and cleaners on cruise ships worldwide.
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