1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant

Marco Polo ITV NewsMore details are coming in about yesterday's deadly incident where a large wave crashed through a window on the Marco Polo cruise ship.

As we mentioned in our article yesterday, a 85 year old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted from the ship. The man later died due to his injuries. 

A cruise passenger gave the following account to the U.K.'s Channel 4 News:

"We were sitting at a table in the Marco Polo's Waldorf restaurant, located on deck six of the cruise ship. The table was on the starboard side. Lunch was just being served and most people were waiting for their orders.

The seas, visible through the windows, were very rough. Waves were peaking nearly parallel to the windows. Furniture in the restaurant was beginning to shift, so people were holding on to tables and chairs.

Suddenly there was a very loud 'bang' and the daylight in the room reduced as a wall of seawater covered most of the starboard windows. The bang was the breaching of a forward window in the restaurant."

On leaving the restaurant, I went up three decks to my cabin, when another large wave hit the ship and I was thrown across a connecting passageway and ended up in a bundle against a wall.

I was rescued by fellow passengers who called the ships doctors and crew. I was stretchered to the sick bay four decks below with a cut head and extensive bruising."

ABC News aired the video here: 

 

Another account stated that sea water rushed through the broken windows and flooded the restaurant to a depth of about three to five inches.

In all 12 passengers and crew members sustained injuries.

There is no indication in any of these articles that the captain has issued warning to the passengers. The cruise line is playing the "freak wave" a/k/a the "rogue wave" defense, suggesting that the wave was unforeseeable. That's hardly true. Storms like this create cyclical patterns of waves where one out of one hundred waves or so is of a substantially large size and velocity. The vessel's officer and senior officers should not permit passengers, particularly elderly guests, into public areas with large windows which can be breached.

Other cruise ships encountering rough weather have experienced smashed windows which killed and seriously injured passengers. 

The Channel 4 video is below:

 

 

Photo Credit: Marco Polo -  ITV News

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From HAL Veendam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Explosion Aboard MSC Orchestra: 3 Crew Members Injured

A Facebook page focusing on the rights of Brazilians working on cruise ships reports today of a serious accident aboard a MSC cruise ship resulting in serious injuries to three crew members.

The page is entitled Direito Do Trabalhador Brasileiro Em Navios Cruzeiros (Law Of Brazilian Workers On Cruise Ships).

It states that an accident occurred on the MSC Orchestra involving three crew members who were working without proper equipment. The cruise line is alleged to have provided the correct equipment. They were cleaning a tank when gas escaped and an explosion occurred.

One crew member was hospitalized and the two other men remain in serious condition in the cruise ship's infirmary. 

Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Orchestra

Photo Credit: Direito Do Trabalhador Brasileiro Em Navios Cruzeiros

Two Cruise Passengers Seriously Injured on the Norwegian Breakaway

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

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

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

It is believed that both men are passengers.

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Dickelbers)

Passengers Injured Aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

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

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

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

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

Oasis of the Seas - Cozumel
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Are Royal Caribbean FlowRiders Defectively Designed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents     

  

Lawsuit Filed Against Royal Caribbean After Injury to Child

Today local NBC affiliate channel 6 aired a story today about a 9 year old boy who underwent emergency brain surgery after being injured during a cruise sponsored game on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The incident occurred on the Monarch of the Seas. 

The child's family say that they trusted Royal Caribbean to organize safe activities for their son during the cruise. The family claims that two staff members threw balls at the boy who ran to avoid getting hit.  The boy collided with another child and then struck his head on a hard object. 

Monarch of the SeasaThe child then underwent emergency brain surgery in Nassau.

The family is now suing Royal Caribbean claiming that the activity designed by the cruise line was unreasonably dangerous for the child. 

Royal Caribbean responded with the following statement:

“We regret that a young guest that sailed onboard Monarch of the Seas was injured. A vacation is supposed to be filled with fun, rejuvenation and relaxation, and it is regrettable that this family's vacation was interrupted by their son's injury, However, Royal Caribbean believes that while this unfortunate incident happened on board a cruise ship, it is not unique to a cruise ship, and could happen at any school, playground, or daycare.”

It should be interesting to see if Royal Caribbean releases the true number of injuries caused by the game - or whether it hides the ball so to speak. 

The child and his family are represented by Miami lawyer Spencer Aronfeld.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Sparrowman980

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read about FlowRider accidents and injuries here.

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean FlowRider Sign - Jim Walker

12 Year Old Child Medevaced from Carnival Sensation

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Wknight94

Romanian Crew Member Seriously Injured on Carnival Dream

A newspaper in Romania reports on injuries suffered by a crew member from Romania who was seriously burned while working on the Carnival Dream cruise ship.    

The accident occurred on June 20th after the Dream departed from Port Canaveral in a 7 day cruise. The Romanian crew member is 35 years old.  

The crew member suffered severe burns to the face, hands, chest and legs and requires extensive medical care. These major burns were caused by a blast of steam from a hot water pipe that ruptured. Carnival Dream Cruise Ship The crew member's condition was so serious that the cruise ship diverted to San Juan in order to be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. The victim was transported to the hospital in San Juan and, later, to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Jackson has one of the best trauma centers in the world.

The Romanian newspaper states that no one from Carnival came to see the burned crew member at the hospital in Miami, even though the cruise line is headquartered here, according to the injured crew member's girlfriend. 

Carnival Cruise Line requires most crew members to resolve their legal claims through an arbitration process outside of the U.S. and often applying laws from foreign countries, even thought Carnival is based in Miami and the cruise ship was based in a port in Florida. 

There are videos of the Coast Guard medevac on YouTube.  The video below explains that the incident happened while the Carnival cruise ship was heading back to the United States "from St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Bahamas."

"A crew member was severely burned and in need of immediate medical care. The night before the hot water stopped working, about 3 hrs later the hot water was fixed, but the morning after they told everyone a crew member was in hurt and in need for a doctor. The captain of our ship made the decision to change our course and head to Puerto Rico to meet with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter for a medical evacuation . . . Please pray for the injured man and his family as he goes through the painful and dangerous recovery from his burns . . ." 

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Kuloskulos

Video Credit: YouTube / SuperDonovan911

Miami Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer - Jim Walker

Injured on a cruise ship and looking to retain an experienced maritime lawyer? Consider Miami lawyer Jim Walker.  

Jim studied maritime case in law school in the early 1980's and has practiced maritime law for the past thirty years.  For the last fifteen years, Jim has focused his law practice exclusively on representing passengers and crew members injured on cruise ships. He has handled many hundreds of cases against cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean Cruises. 

There are lots of lawyers who advertise themselves as "cruise ship lawyers" on the internet, but who Jim Walker Cruise Ship Injury Lawyerhandle only a claim or two against a cruise line a year.

Jim handles only cases involving injuries on cruise ships sailing the high seas.  

Jim is a well known cruise ship safety advocate. He has attended seven hearings before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives regarding issues of cruise passenger safety, sexual assault, disappearances of passengers at sea, crime, and cruise ship fires and collisions.  

The major press outlets routinely ask Jim for his perspective on cruise ship mishaps. This year alone, Jim has appeared in over 75 television, cable news & radio shows, newspaper articles, special programs & documentaries regarding cruise ship accidents, crimes and controversies.

This year CNN asked Jim to write an editorial about the state of the cruise industry: "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know." 

Here's what people are saying about Jim:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"A Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" - Reuters.

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

"Leading Miami Attorney" - Newsweek Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you were inured or assaulted on a cruise ship, don't hesitate to contact Jim:

jim@cruiselaw.com

305 995 5300

1 (800) 256-1518 (U.S. Toll Free)

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer

Legal Rights of Crew Members Injured on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

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

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

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

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

"The ship doctor would not authorize a MRI;"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit - Jim Walker with clients:

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

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

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

This weekend, there was a "near drowning" of a 4 year old boy on Disney's Fantasy cruise ship.  

The incident reportedly occurred during the afternoon when a family boarded the Disney cruise ship and before the ship sailed. The boy was pulled from the pool, apparently non-responsive, and had to be taken to an emergency room at the Cape Canaveral Hospital, and then airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando. Fortunately this happened while the ship was in port so the child could be rushed to receive emergency medical treatment rather than a few hours later on the high Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Pool Near Drowningseas where no such assistance would have been possible.

The latest word I heard was that the boy had survived, and was stable and recovering.

The parents of the child were reportedly not at the pool but arrived when the boy was rescued. The parents were soundly criticized by cruise fans on the Disney boards and the Cruise Critic on-line community.

People have posted comments on my article on Facebook criticizing the parents. Some say things like there are no lifeguards on any cruise ships, which all parents should know. Others say that the passenger ticket states that the cruise line does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising out of swimming pools. Still other say that there are signs on cruise ships saying that there are no lifeguards on duty and that swimming is at the passenger's risk.

I understand the concept of personal and parental responsibility, having two boys who my wife and I are raising. But I also understand that the law also demands corporate responsibility as well. It's easy to criticize a parent when a child is injured; we are all perfect parents when it's not our child, aren't we? But I find that those people who are quick to blame parents when kids are injured and who talk incessantly about "personal responsibility" are the first to defend corporate malfeasance and use the term "personal responsibility" as code words for condoning the complete absence of "corporate responsibility."     

Cruise lines like Disney have legal responsibility to parents and children on Disney cruise ships. A "no lifeguard on duty" sign does not legally exonerate a cruise line, or a hotel, or an amusement park.  It simply raises the issue whether the sign was legally conspicuous enough to provide an effective warning to the parents.   

It is inexcusable for Disney not to assign multiple lifeguards around the ship's pools. Is it correct that Disney Cruise Line has no lifeguards at all?  If so, that's reckless. Yes, parents need to be responsible, but they will make errors. Reasonable safety can exist only when there is both personal responsibility and corporate responsibility. 

A friend brought to my attention that Disney advertises that it has well-trained lifeguards on its cruise ships and in its parks.

In a 2008 publication entitled Walt Disney Report on Safety, Disney states that it trains over 1,200 lifeguards a year, including on its cruise ships. Here's what Disney states:   

"Lifeguard Training"

"Together, the Disneyland® Resort, Walt Disney World® Resort and Disney Cruise Line® train more than 1,200 lifeguards a year to monitor activities at these venues."

"Our lifeguards must complete a thorough training program that exceeds most U.S. standards and includes both a water-skills test and up to 24 hours of basic training in water rescue techniques, CPR, basic first aid, oxygen administration and the use of AEDs. After completion of basic training, lifeguards must also perform four hours of in-service training each month, undergo eight hours of recertification Disney Resort Drowning Deathtraining every year and participate in frequent unannounced audits by one of the world's premier aquatic safety service providers."

Is this bait-and-switch?  Does Disney tell the public that its kid-friendly resorts and ships have well trained lifeguards but in reality it does not have any?

Last month, a 13 year-old boy died at a Disney amusement resort near Epcot which had no lifeguard. You can read about that death here.

Disney issued a statement after the dream-vacation turned into a nightmare. The Imperfect Parent quotes Disney saying that it was "saddened" by the death and " . . . our hearts go out to his family, friends and loved ones. We have reached out to his family to offer care and assistance during this difficult time.” 

Families don't need after-the-fact condolences.  They don't need "no lifeguard" signs. They need some of the 1,200 lifeguards who Disney claims it trains each year doing their jobs at the pools in the Disney resorts and on the Disney cruise ships so that no other children are killed or seriously injured when their parents are imperfect.

Have a thought? Join the discussion on our Facebook page about this issue

 

Photo Credits:

Disney Fantasy cruise ship pool - Fodors

Disney resort pool - Wikipedia via Daily Mail 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Allure of the Seas - FlowRider - Oasis of the Seas

Is Cruising Safe? Depends On Who You Ask.

I read a tweet this evening which caught my eye:

"Is Cruising Safe?"  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Oasis-Class Cruise Ship: Bad for Environment, Bad for U.S., Great for Lawyers & Cruise CEO's

Allure of the Seas - Oasis of the Seas FlowRider Royal Caribbean Cruises just announced a third Oasis-class cruise ship will be built at the South Korea-owned shipyard STX France after the financing fell through with the STX Finland shipyard.  

The as-of-yet unnamed gigantic ship will follow fellow behemoths the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas which are ported in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

CEO Richard Fain, who just sold $11,500,000 worth of RCL stock, proclaimed that "these ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results . . . "

The new billion-dollar-plus cruise ship is expected to come on line sometime in mid to late 2016. STX France provided Royal Caribbean with a one-year option to build a fourth Oasis-class ship with a 2018 delivery date. 

There is speculation where the new ship will be ported, with the South Florida Business Journal proposing Miami where Royal Caribbean is based and U.K. travel blogger Captain Greybeard raising the possibility of deploying the ship to the Mediterranean or the Far East.

What's my take on another "Giant of the Seas" arriving on the scene? First, its a continuing disaster for the environment. The supposedly most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world still burn highly toxic high-sulfur-content bunker fuel. And small Caribbean islands are forced to destroy ancient coral Allure of the Seas - Oasis of the Seas - Royal Caribbeanreefs as a price to pay from the privilege of hosting these enormous floating cities into their small ports.

The multi-billion dollar deal enormously benefits South Korea and France. The off-shore building project represents another drain of money and jobs from the U.S. to the South Korean conglomerate which owns the shipyard in France. 

The arrival of one or two additional Oasis-class ships will carry 5,000 to 10,000 additional cruise passengers. They will be trying to stay safe on the ship's various attractions like the rock-climbing wall, the zip-line and the incredibly dangerous FlowRiders which have caused serious injury and even death over the years.   

One would hope that the cruise line takes greater care in designing these amusement-park-like attractions to avoid the risk of serious injury.  Because as matters now stand, Royal Caribbean's gigantic sized cruise ships are good news only for the cruise line's executives and the personal injury lawyers representing the injured passengers.  

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

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

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

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

CRUISES . . .  LIKE NO OTHER VACATION IN THE WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LOOK AT COMPENSATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of the interesting cases you have handled?

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

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

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

True.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything you’d like to add?

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

 

Photo Credits 

Linda Coffman   Ms. Linda Coffman

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

 

Royal Caribbean's Dangerous FlowRider: Is the Cruise Line Drafting a New Liability Waiver?

One of the most dangerous activities you can participate in during a cruise is found only on Royal Caribbean's cruise ships. It's the "FlowRider," a simulated surfing and water-boarding activity where a thin stream of water shoots up a sloped platform to create a wave-like flow of water.

Wipe-outs are expected. But what is not expected are the serious, life-altering injuries and, sometimes, even death.

You can see one such serious accident in the video below, where a young man falls on his neck. 

A considerable number of cruise passengers have been seriously injured on the Flowrider, which Royal Caribbean helped design and install on five of its cruise ships: one FlowRider on each of the Freedom class cruise ships (Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas) and two on each of the Oasis class ships (Allure of he Seas and Oasis of the Seas).    

You will read absolutely no warnings about the dangers of the FlowRider on Royal Caribbean's website. Nor will you see any warnings whatsoever posted around the FlowRiders on any of the cruise ships. Even after a passenger was killed when he fell while trying to surf, the cruise line decided not to warn cruise passengers that the activity is, well, deadly

The cruise line's approach to the problem has been to require all passengers who participate in the activity to sign an electronic liability waiver. The process of scrolling through the electronic keypad in a long line is so quick that it's clear that no one reads the waiver. Moreover, the waiver is legally invalid. Earlier this year, the Eleventh Circuit Court of appeal struck down the Royal Caribbean waiver finding that it violated federal law (46 U.S.C 30509) which prohibits contract provisions that attempt to absolve a shipping company from its own negligence.  

At the moment, Royal Caribbean has an illegal waiver, and still no warnings on-line or warnings posted around the FlowRider.   

So what is the cruise line thinking? 

Some people think that Royal Caribbean may be going back to the drawing board to try and draft a new waiver.     

In a recent message thread on the website of the popular on-line cruise community Cruise Critic, there is discussion that the cruise line is working on creating a new and improved liability waiver - apparently for the purpose of trying to navigate around the statutory prohibition found in 46 U.S.C. 30509.  

If that's true, the new waiver will be struck down too. It's too bad that the cruise line won't post warning signs on its website or on the seven FlowRiders on its cruise ships. There are lots of people who don't understand just how dangerous this activity is.

If Royal Caribbean is going to be the only cruise line promoting this dangerous activity, it needs to spend less time drafting illegal waivers and more time drafting effective warnings before the next unsuspecting passenger steps on a surf board and breaks his neck.     

 

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."    

U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Injured Passenger From Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy Cruise Ship - Injury - Coast Guard MedevacA newspaper in Savannah reports that yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 63 year old woman from a cruise ship sailing in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 60 miles east of Savannah to a local hospital in Savannah. 

Coast Guard Sector Charleston received notification at about around 10:08 p.m. Saturday night from crew members aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship via VHF-FM marine radio channel 16. The cruise ship reported that  that the woman had fallen down some stairs, suffered a laceration on her head, and was in need of medical attention that could not be provided on the ship.

The newspaper states that at approximately 11:14 p.m., the Coast Guard launched an MH-65 Dolphin air rescue crew which arrived on at the cruise ship around 11:40 p.m. The helicopter hoisted the injured woman and a cruise ship nurse from the deck of the cruise ship and transported them to the hospital. 

The newspaper does not mention where the cruise passenger was from.

There have been a number of Coast Guard medevacs from the Carnival Fantasy recently.  On April 24, 2012, the Coast Guard medevaced a 56 year old man from the Fantasy when it was 60 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. A week later, the Coast Guard rescued a 57 year old man from the same ship while it was sailing 160 miles southwest of Marco Island.

 

Photo credit:  Wikipedia

Carnival Changes Course, Offers Cruise Credit After Customer Stabbed in the Head

Carnival Cruise Line - Cruise Credit - InsuranceA family in Kentucky is going to enjoy a family vacation after Carnival reconsidered its cancellation penalty following a vicious attack on young Troy Walter.  The teenage was coming to the defense of his friend who was attacked by a knife yielding man now in jail on attempted murder charges.

The family was scheduled to take a Caribbean cruise vacation but Troy was stabbed in the head and neck two weeks earlier.  Troy's mother called Carnival and informed customer service representatives of the attack which resulted in her son's hospitalization for two months.  She says that the Carnival customer representative promised her over the telephone that her family would receive a cruise credit of $2,000 so that they could take a cruise later.  

But when she later contacted Carnival to re-book the cruise, Carnival informed her that it had no record that anyone at Carnival promised a future cruise credit.  This was significant because the family had not purchased insurance and would forfeit the entire cruise fare.  Carnival would not reconsider its cancellation penalty which Carnival explained was a "standard industry practice."  

The Walter family contacted a local television station and spoke to the "troubleshooter" department who contacted Carnival and, eventually obtained a cruise credit good for the next year.

The local newspaper ran the story (see video below) which sparked a debate about whether the family should have been penalized for not buying insurance.  We recommend to everyone to always buy insurance because you never know what will happen right before or during a cruise.    

Cruise lines have received a lot of bad press recently.  Read this article about another cruise line, NCL, which would not alter its cancellation after one of its customer's brother died right before the cruise. The customer had to attend his brother's funeral and asked NCL to refund the cruise fare or provide a credit.  NCL refused. The customer asked NCL at least to let the aggrieved passenger donate his cruise vacation to a sick child as part of the Make-A-Wish charity. NCL would not budge.  Then came the sick part.  NCL sold the cabin to another customer.

Yes, NCL received a double profit due to a death in the customer's family.  Talk about bad karma. I wrote an article And You Wonder Why the Cruise Industry Has an Image Problem.    

Unlike NCL, in this case Carnival did the right thing.  Yes passengers should always buy insurance, but its nice to see cruise lines act human once in a while.  

 

FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

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

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

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

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

The Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The appeal was handled by appellate specialist Phil Parrish.    

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

 

 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420

Photo:       Cruise Critic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Princess Cruises Passengers Hospitalized in Bermuda

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Killed in Parasailng Accident in St. Thomas

A news source in the U.S. Virgin Islands reports that two passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship were involved in a serious parasailing accident on Tuesday in St. Thomas.

The incident occurred late Tuesday afternoon while the passengers were on an excursion.  One of the passengers died, and the other was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.

There are comments from an online cruise community suggesting that the deceased passengers was celebrating  her 60th birthday and her daughter was the one seriously injured.     

Celebrity Cruises Parasailing Accident - St. ThomasCelebrity Cruises advertises parasailing "400 feet over St. Thomas" on its website.  You can watch's Celebrity's brief  video about parasailing in St. Thomas here which describes the excursion as an "experience of a lifetime." 

A number of agencies are apparently involved in the investigation into this incident, including the Virgin Islands Police Department, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Last year we reported on the death of a Carnival cruise passenger parasailing in Cozumel during an excursion. 

 if you know how the accident occurred, please leave a comment below.

November 17, 2011 Update:

Caribbean Water Sports and Tours - Parasailing DeathThe Virgin Islands Daily News published an article this evening stating that "squalls and wind gusts Tuesday afternoon may have factored into the death of Bernice Kraftcheck, 60, and the serious injury of her daughter Danielle Haese, 34, who was hospitalized overnight at Schneider Hospital." 

The mother and daughter purchased a parasailing shore-excursion from Celebrity Cruises which was conducted by Caribbean Watersports and Tours.  The excursion company conducted the parasailing trip aboard the 31-foot powerboat Turtle.  The newspaper reports that two crew members operated the Turtle, which was carrying five passengers. 

"All parasailing shore excursions in the Caribbean have been cancelled indefinitely, pending the outcome of the investigation," said Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez.

Cruise lines face legal liability when they fail to vet the safety policies and procedures of the excursion companies which the cruise lines select to do business with. 

For example, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.  Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

December 3, 2011 Update:

Coast Guard Continues to Investigate St. Thomas Parasailing Accident

 

Photo credit:  Celebrity Cruises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo credits:  Jim Walker

Royal Caribbean Ordered to Pay $1,250,000 to Injured Crewmember

An Arbitration panel in Miami, Florida has ordered Royal Caribbean Cruises to pay $1,250,000.00 to a crewmember following an injury aboard the Jewel of the Seas cruise ship.

The crewmember, who is from Serbia, sustained a serious back injury in June 2008 when a crew member violently slammed a door into her back while she was walking down a narrow hallway.  She sustained a large herniated disc.  She reported to the ship infirmary and the ship doctor found her unfit for duty.  However, her supervisor instructed her to continue working.

Jewel of the Seas - Cruise Ship Medical Care - Crew Member - ArbitrationThe ship doctor thereafter refused to take her medical condition seriously, and did not take an x-ray or order a MRI at a port of call.  After seven weeks of continuous work, her medical condition deteriorated badly.  She collapsed and had to be taken from the cruise ship on a stretcher with a IV morphine drip to manage her pain.

Royal Caribbean sent her back to Serbia and refused to arrange for medical treatment.  It paid her only $12 a day for lodging and food, which is impossible to live on.  It paid her consistently late.  It took the cruise line over five months to finally authorize back surgery in January 2009.  The doctor then performed surgery at the wrong level.  Royal Caribbean thereafter refused to arrange or pay for her rehabilitation or arrange for follow-up x-rays or a MRI.

After she retained Walker & O’Neill to represent her, the cruise line continued to refuse to meet its legal obligation to provide her with the necessary medical treatment.  When our firm complained, the cruise line terminated her living expenses. One of the in-house lawyers overseeing the cruise line’s medical department, Tony Faso, decided to abandon her.  Mr. Faso sent an email to Walker & O’Neill stating:

"I am sure any arbitrator will agree with me. I am sure that I will get some ridiculous response from you. I really don't care . . ."

Walker & O’Neill then flew the crew member here to Miami, and arranged for her to see a U.S. board certified orthopedist who determined that the first surgery was a failure.  Royal Caribbean nonetheless refused to reinstate the crew member’s benefits or provide her with the necessary medical care.

The three member Arbitration panel found Royal Caribbean’s refusal to pay maintenance and cure benefits to be:

" . . . not reasonable.  The denial of those benefits lacked any reasonable defense . . . "

The Arbitrators awarded the crew member $1,250,000.00.

Royal Caribbean was also found responsible for $11,650.00 for the administrative costs of the International Center for Dispute Resolution ("ICDR") as well as $48,970.00 for compensation of the Arbitrators.  

This award is the highest arbitration amount awarded to an injured crewmember since cruise lines began arbitrating cases. The award demonstrates the consequences of a cruise line unlawfully abandoning an ill crewmember and spitefully terminating her medical benefits. 

The crew member was represented by James (“Jim”) Walker and Lisa O’Neill of Walker & O’Neill P.A. and Jonathan Aronson of the Aronson Law Firm.

Royal Caribbean was represented by Curtis Mase of the Mase, Lara & Ebersole law firm.

Carnival Cruise Line Settlement Keeps Getting Publicity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

 

 

Video credit:      Cayman 27 News

Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers on Tender Boats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Video credit:  CBS News 4 (Miami)

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Credits:

Photo 1           randmunn1 Fkickr 

Photo 2          carolsummer66 photobucket 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420

Jury Hits Royal Caribbean With $1.7 Million Verdict for Injured Crew Member

A jury reached a verdict yesterday in the amount of $1,700,000 against cruise giant, Royal Caribbean Cruises, here in Miami.  The crew member is a musician who slipped on stage and suffered an injured shoulder which required surgery and ended his music career.

The Miami Herald reports on the case this morning, explaing that the defense lawyers for the cruise line suggested to the jury that they award less than $130,000 for the crew member's injuries.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship VerdictThe case is now being discussed on USA TODAY 's Cruise Log, a popular cruise blog frequented mostly by cruise fans.  The type of comments on this website are often in defense of the cruise industry.  You will often read comments that a verdict like this will cause cruise fares to increase.

The fact of the matter is that Royal Caribbean will collect over $6,000,000,000 (billion $) from its passengers this year.  It will pay $0 in Federal taxes because it registered its business in Liberia and flies flags of foreign countries to avoid taxes, safety laws, and wage regulations.  It is also part of an international "Protection and Indemnity" insurance group with hundreds of billions of dollars in assets.

The verdict will have no effect on the cruise line or any of its cruise passengers.  

Royal Caribbean is considered by many to be the worst cruise line in Miami regarding the mistreatment of ill or injured crew members.  Take a moment and read:

Royal Caribbean Cruises - An Epidemic of Sick, Injured & Neglected Crew Members

Cruise Ship Medical Care - Royal Caribbean Gives Their Crew Members the Royal Shaft

Leave a comment below if you agree or disagree. 

Miami Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Prime Location For Passenger Claims"

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Cruise Ship Accidents - Miami Maritime Lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

The video is from Houston News - ABC13.com

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

 

Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Costa Europa Collides With Pier in Egypt - Three Crew Dead, Passengers Injured

Newspapers are reporting that the Costa Europa cruise ship collided with a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt yesterday.  The collision ripped a hole in the hull of the ship and flooded a crew cabin, resulting in the death of three crew member who, unidentified, are described as "an Indian, a Honduran and a Brazilian."  (Technically speaking, when a vessel strikes a pier, it is called an "allision" - "collisions" occur between vessels). 

Costa Europa Collision - Egypt - Passenger and Crew Injury and DeathFour other people were injured.  Some reports indicate that another crewmember and three British women passengers were injured.  Other newspapers say that four passengers were injured. 

Pursuant to the terms of the passenger's cruise tickets, if the passengers need to make a claim for medical expneses and compensation, they are required to make their claim in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Cruise line officials are quoted as saying that "strong winds" pushed the cruise into a pier as it tried to dock at the port.

It seems that every time a cruise ship hits a dock, the cruise lines blame it on the wind as opposed to poor seamanship at the helm.   

The cruise ship was sailing on an 18-day cruise from Dubai to Savona.

The photographs of the Costa Europe show the vessel listing heavily on its port side, in order to keep water ouring into the large opening on the starboard side. 

A photograph of the extensive damage to the crew quarters in shown is an article in the U.K. Sun newspaperCosta Europa - Damage to Crew Cabin - Collision

The passengers were disembarked, and Costa Crociere is arranging for them to be flown back to their countries of origin.

 

Credits:

 

Costa Europa  cruise ship -  AP (Hussien Talal) via Mail Online

Damage to crew cabin of  Costa Europa - U.K. Sun Newspaper

 

 

 

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident

In our first article regarding the excursion tour bus accident in Tortola, we explained that while Princess Cruises sent "customer care" representatives to the island to meet with the survivors of the crash - the cruise line also sent Miami defense trial lawyers to defend the cruise line's interests. 

The Cruise Line Gets Lawyered Up

The attorney heading up Princess Cruises' defense is Jeffrey Maltzman from the Maltzman Foreman law firm in Miami. Mr. Maltzman is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer who routinely defends cruise lines and excursion companies in high profile trials. 

Jeffrey Maltman - Cruise Line Defense LawyerMr. Maltzman is best known for his successful defense of Cunard Line and Fun Water Tours following the crash of an excursion truck in Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI) in November 2005.  The case  is highlighted in an article appearing in the National Law Journal entitled "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack." 

The article explains that 8 cruise passengers from Cunard's Queen Mary 2 visiting Tortola were injured when the brakes of the excursion truck failed, causing the vehicle to crash in the side of a mountain.  The issue of the brake failure and whether the excursion company and cruise line knew of the brake problem were the central focus of the trial.  As the article explains, millions of dollars in compensation were at issue.    

Although the article explains that "odds were overwhelmingly against" the cruise line at the beginning, Mr. Maltzman and his partner, Jeffrey Forman, successfully defended the case.  Mr. Foreman is quoted as saying "there's a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they're greedy . . .  that usually has an impact.  So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."  The tactic worked, as the jury decided against all of the cruise passengers and Mr. Maltzman won a defense jury verdict for the cruise line and excursion company.  

Princess Cruises Denies Brake Malfunction?

Mr. Maltzman has been on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week interviewing the passengers injured in the latest excursion crash in Tortola.  His firm has what is called an "Emergency Response Team" where defense lawyers are scrambled to respond to cruise disasters.

Some passengers suggest that a "customer care" representative from Princess and Carnival introduced Mr. Maltzman as an "independent investigator" (although Mr. Maltzman identified himself as a lawyer for the cruise line).    

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess Cruises - Brake Failure?Mr. Maltzman is reportedly telling some of the passengers that the tour bus' air brakes were checked out by investigators and no problems were discovered.  It is less than clear whether the investigators were retained by the police or the defense lawyers on behalf of the cruise line. 

The defense strategy is already taking shape - the cruise line will deny that the accident was due to brake failure or any defect in the excursion bus or, if there was a problem with the brakes, neither the driver nor the excursion company or cruise line knew about it beforehand.  Princess Cruises will argue that it should not be responsible because this was just an isolated incident due to the momentary carelessness of the bus driver. 

Or in other words, the bus driver may turn out to be the "fall guy."

The Bus Driver Gets Lawyered Up

BVI Platinum News, which is providing excellent coverage of this tragic accident, reports that the bus driver, Roland Allen, retained a defense lawyer, Stephan Daniels.  BVI News reports that Mr. Allen is also known as "Crash Dummy."   

Roland Allen - Bus Driver - Tortola Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesMr. Daniels appeared in Court yesterday in an effort to try and get his client out of jail, following his arrest two days ago.  In an article entitled "Mechanical Problems May Have Caused Tuesday's Accident,"  BVI News describes what the bus driver's lawyer argued to the Court:

"Daniels told the court that his client was not aware that there was a brake malfunction when he was going down the hill, however as he applied the brake, he realized that it had failed.

Further, Daniels told the court that once Allen realized what was occurring, he tried his best to avoid the accident by gearing down, while attempting to brace the vehicle to the side of the hill to slow down the bus.

Daniels explained that the vehicle collided with the foundation of a church ruin and toppled. The Lawyer said that if this was not done, the accident could have been worse.

He said that it was clearly a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the accident and his client was not reckless."

The Court nonetheless declined to release Mr. Allen, but will consider the matter further at a hearing on March 2nd.

The Cruise Continues

Although none of the passengers have even ended their ill fated cruise, the defense lawyers for the cruise line and bus driver are posturing to defend their clients.  Princess Cruises has an excellent lawyer in Mr. Maltzman who has won this type of case before.  The bus driver should hope that his defense lawyer is equally talented.

 

Credits:

Jeffrey Maltzman       Superlawyers

Excursion Bus           BVI Platinum News

Roland Allen             BVI Platinum News  

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola

The police in Tortola arrested the driver of the excursion bus used by Princess Cruises to transport cruise passengers from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship to the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" tour sold by the cruise line. 

BVI News Online reports that the police took Roland Allen, age 32, of Baughers Bay, Tortola BVI, into custody last night and charged with "causing death by dangerous driving."

Tortola BVI - Bus Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesWe reported on this tragedy yesterday in an article "Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess."

The article mentions that the deceased passenger, previously identified as Aaron Humphrey, has bean identified as Aaron Rumphrey, from Honeoye, New York. 

Mr. Rumphrey and his parents had previously been hiking with 17 other passengers from Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  When the tour bus ran off the road, Mr. Rumphrey was ejected through the front windshield.  The tour bus did not have either seat belts or shoulder harnesses.

Cruise lines like Princess are legally obligated to investigate and audit excursion companies used  for the tours advertised and sold by the cruise lines so that the passengers are reasonably safe.  Using a bus with no seat belts or shoulder harnesses is unreasonably dangerous, particularly given the road conditions in Tortola.   

An article today on WHEC.com describes the young man as "kind and friendly."  Mr. Rumphrey had been a student at the Cobblestone Arts Center in New York in an arts program for students with developmental disabilities.  The article describes how he would make other students laugh and inspire them.  A supervisor at the program is quoted saying "he was a great guy.”

February 25, 2010 Update:

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

 

Photo Credit:

Cruise excursion bus            BVI Platinum News

 

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

CruiseCritic reports that an excursion tour bus taking passengers from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship crashed in Tortola.

In an article entitled "Tragic Bus Accident on Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion,"  the CruiseCritic website reports that the cruise sponsored tour bus was headed to a "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach." 

Princess Cruises Excursion - Tortola - Tour Bus AccidentThe tour bus (photo left) "went off the road and flipped earlier today.  Of the 20 passengers onboard, one person was killed and two others were seriously injured."

According to CruiseCritic, the injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, while the other passengers were taken back to the cruise ship. The passenger who died was a 24-year-old man from Rochester, New York, on vacation with his parents, who were also on the tour.

BVI News Online reports that the deceased passenger is Aaron Humphry who died at at Peebles Hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

The BVI News reports that twenty cruise ship passengers from the Caribbean Princess were on a tour bus descending onto the Windy Hill Road on Tortola when the driver struck an embankment and the vehicle overturned.

Seven passengers were taken to the hospital while the other 13 passengers were assessed at the scene and taken back to the cruise ship. Five were treated and discharged while one passenger has been retained for a fractured shoulder bone. The unidentified driver was treated and released.

Princess Cruises issued a statement that it is "providing support to the family during this difficult time."  Behind the scenes, Princess Cruises is also sending a team of lawyers from Miami to Tortola to begin to defend the cruise line's interests.  The same Miami cruise line defense lawyers who traveled to the Star Princess when it caught fire near Jamaica in 2006 are flying to Tortola today.

The Princess Cruises web site describes the tour bus as an "open air safari bus."  (However, the bus in the BVI News photograph appears to be an enclosed bus).  Princess Cruises describes the excursion as follows:

"This excursion visits two of Tortola's most popular attractions--Sage Mountain National Park and one of its beautiful beaches . . . Board your open-air safari bus and drive along the island's scenic Ridge Road to Sage Mountain National Park  . . . 

Dominica truck excursion crash - Celebrity CruisesThis is the second serious excursion vehicular accident in the last year. 

Exactly one year ago today, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises'  Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica (photo left).  We are representing passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.

Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard.  It remains to be seen what the local police's investigation reveals about this particular accident.

It is also likely that the defense lawyers for the cruise line have already hired their own experts to take a look at the vehicle with an eye toward defending the cruise line.  Most excursion companies associated with the cruise line are required to maintain liability insurance with U.S. Tortola excursion crash - Princess Cruisesinsurance underwriters.  These underwriters work with the cruise line to maintain a united defense against any passenger who is injured in excursion accidents like this.    

The BVI Platinum News has a slide show of detailed photographs of the damages excursion bus after the accident, which are available online.  

February 24, 2010 Update:

The deceased passenger has been correctly identified as Aaron Rumphrey.

The police arrested the driver of the excursion bus - Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola.

 

Credit:

CruiseJunkie.com

Photograph of Tortola bus excursion accident     BVI News Online

Photograph of Dominica excursion crash         thedominican.net 

Photographs (slide show) of Tortola excursion bus                 BVI Platinum News 
 

Carnival Passenger Dies During Paragliding Accident in Cozumel

A number of newspapers are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger from Philadelphia died while paragliding during a stop in Cozumel.

Joseph Job (Sajan) - Carnival Cruise - Paragliding The South Asian Mail reports that Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan), age 40, was paragliding with friends in Mexico when his harness broke and he fell into the sea. 

Mr. Job was a native of Thrissur, Kerala and became a U.S. citizen.

The Web Malayalee newspaper indicates that Mr. Job is survived by his wife and daughters. 

Every year many cruise passengers are killed or seriously injured during excursions in ports of call.  We have seen many accidents involving parasailing, zip-lining, snorkeling, diving, and renting jet skis in Mexican and Caribbean ports of call.  Compounding the issue is the generally inferior medical and rescue services in these ports. 

It is unknown whether the paragliding excursion was advertised and sold by Carnival.  

Update: February 12, 2010:

Cruise Critic contains a comment by a reader that the passenger was from the Carnival Imagination cruise ship.  The reader was apparently the first one to notify the family and Carnival:  

"Incident happened at around 5:00 and Carnival reacted at 7:30 PM. We informed on the emergency number given on Carnival Capers. Carnival Imagination security team acknowledge that there local agent (emergency no. on Capers is of this agent) goofed up in Cozumel." 

 

Credit:

Photograph of Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan)               South Asian Mail

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo credit     Jane Engle / LA Times

Cruise Law Services for Passengers and Crew Members

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

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

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

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

PASSENGER CASES:

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

Jim handles the following types of cases: 

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

CREW MEMBERS CASES

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

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

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

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