Billion Dollar Law Firm Spends Millions to Charter Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

Today the Washingtonian reported on a gigantic law firm, DLA Piper. chartering a gigantic cruise ship for a partner retreat. The 4,200-lawyer international firm selected Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

The Washingtonian calls the Piper firm a "legal behemoth" which has over 100 worldwide offices. It seems like only the partners are invited but that's enough to require a cruise behemoth like the Liberty of the Seas.  The cruise will begin in Barcelona and the ship will then sail up the coast to Nice. Sounds nice.   

DLA Piper Liberty of the Seas CruiseThe charter costs over $3,000,000 plus the costs of booze, excursions, and of course flying the partners around the world to Spain. I don't see these fat cats flying economy.

How can a law firm afford such an extravaganza? Don't worry. The firm represents mostly gigantic corporations as clients and has money to burn. The Wall Street Journal just reported that DLA Piper collected over $2,400,000,000 last year.  Yes that's right, $2.4 billion.

I'll keep my personal opinions about this to myself for a change, but let me just say that there is a reason I chose to work at my own small firm and not at a gigantic law firm with so much money that it can go on a boondoggle like this.  

I asked readers of my Facebook page to come up with one word which describes the cruise.  The response are pretty funny.  Read the comments here and give us your thoughts.   

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hassocks5489

Salt into the Wound: Royal Caribbean Denies Legionnaires Disease Came from Liberty of the Seas

Last week we reported on an article in the BBC about a former Royal Caribbean captain who died after contracting Legionnaire's disease. BBC's story was entitled Ex-Royal Caribbean Captain Died of Legionella. His widow is now proceeding with an inquest back in the UK.    

This is a disturbing story which we looked into last year: Royal Caribbean Delivers Cruel Blow to Widow of Beloved Captain Tore Myhra.

Royal Caribbean initially declined comment to the BBC saying that it does not comment about pending legal cases, but it looks like the cruise line has changed its mind. Royal Caribbean just sent the BBC a statement saying for the first time that "Royal Caribbean is certain that Mr. Myhra did not contract Legionella while sailing on board Liberty of the Seas."  The cruise line further states that Captain Myhra reported to the Captain Tore Myhraship's doctor only with "flu-like symptoms."

It is interesting to contrast Royal Caribbean's denials today with what the cruise line stated when Captain Myhra fell ill on the cruise ship. Back in December 2009, Royal Caribbean did not deny that the cruise ship had the deadly bacteria. It stated only that ". . . we do not know the source of the guest's legionellosis . . " The cruise line further explained that in response to the legionella-related death it sanitized key areas onboard the ship, including whirlpools and the H2O Zone.  

As we reported in 2009 in our article Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner concluded that Captain Myhra became sick on the cruise ship and suffered "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and dry cough.'' His symptoms worsened and he died of "Legionella pneumophila pneumonia" the day after he departed the cruise ship, on November 1, 2009.

The Miami Herald covered the story and interviewed the Centers for Disease Control: The Herald said that the CDC investigated "five or six cases of Legionnaires' disease aboard cruise ships going in and out of South Florida in the past three months" around the time of Captain Myhra's death.

The South Florida Business Journal reported that during the next cruise, a family on the Liberty of the Seas found the H20 water area and hot tubs were closed six out of seven days of the cruise. A passenger reportedly said "This cruise started off horrible as we were told there had been two cases of Legionnaire's disease on the 11/1 sailing and that Customs was also checking the entire ship . . . " Another passenger mentioned receiving a letter in the stateroom, indicating a passenger on the previous cruise had been diagnosed with Legionnaire's, so the H20 Zone and hot tubs were closed. 

Why is Royal Caribbean now so "certain" that its former captain did not contract the disease on its cruise ship and he had just "flu-like" symptoms?  

It seems like this cruise cruise line will say anything to avoid bad press, even if it means pouring salt into the wounds of Captain Myhra's grieving wife and daughter.  

Did Liberty of the Seas Rescue Two Cuban Boaters? Royal Caribbean Isn't Sure

Last Sunday the Liberty of the Seas cruised upon two stranded boaters as the cruise ship was returning from the Caribbean.  The ship stopped and picked up two Cuban men.

As WPTV reports, Royal Caribbean originally said that its cruise ship picked them up. But later it issued this statement, saying: The two Cubans did not board the Liberty of the Seas, but were retrieved by a coast guard vessel…"

But cruise passenger Emily Zazdin, who filmed the rescue, said  "I got video of them coming up to the ship and they were taken aboard."  

The Coast Guard said they picked up the two men from the cruise ship and found they have legal status in the U.S. The Coast Guard took them to the border patrol offices in Marathon, where their legal status were confirmed, and they were released.

You can see in the video (courtesy RSS 622) at the bottom the Coast Guard arriving at the cruise ship to take the men away in a Coast Guard vessel.  

Just goes to show you, take anything the cruise line PR people tell you with a grain of salt.

 

 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Killed During Dune Buggy Excursion in Mexico

A number of newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel are reporting on the death of a young couple who cruised to Cozumel and died during a dune buggy accident last Saturday.  

Jim Melillo and Susan Borges sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and signed up for a dune buggy excursion with a number of their friends. They were killed when the dune buggy in which they were riding (driven by another cruise passenger) apparently lost control and struck a metal guardrail. 

The Orlando Sentinel quotes the group members commenting that the dune buggies had poor safety conditions and many of the buggies did not even have seat belts. A Mexican newspaper identifies the dune buggy rental company as "Paraíso" car rental. The dune buggy excursion was not sold through the cruise line.

Even if the excursion were sponsored by Royal Caribbean, there is case law indicating that the cruise line may not be liable in a case like this. In John Morrell & Co. v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 534 F. Supp. 2d 1345, 2008 AMC 936 (S.D. Fla. 2008), a company paid for twelve of its employees to go on a cruise on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. When the ship was in Cozumel, Mexico, several employees went on a dune buggy expedition that Royal Caribbean made available, but was owned and operated by a Cozumel company. A dune buggy was involved in an accident which caused it to swerve and flip, causing serious injuries to one of the employees resulting in $170,000 in medical benefits and disability benefits.

The court found that Royal Caribbean was not liable for the accident. The cruise ship did not supervise the operation and had no duty to warn passengers of possible dangers in such a trip, as the dangers are obvious the court held. 

 

The couples's family and friends set up a facebook tribute page and a website, Jim and Susan Fund, where you can donate in their memory.  

Did the Liberty of the Seas Buzz Cape Ampelio in Italy?

The Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX published an interesting article L’inchino della Liberty of the Seas which raised the question whether the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship sailed too close to Cape Ampelio near the little Italian town of Bordighera.

Bordighera is a small, beautiful coastal town near Italy's border with France.  It has a small marina but certainly nothing that could accommodate a mega cruise ship like Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.  

The Italian newspaper writes that citizens of Bordighera became alarmed when the Liberty of the Seas sailed close (apparently less than a mile) to the shore. Dozens telephoned the Italian Coast Guard in Bordighera Italy - Cruise Ship anger to demand that the cruise ship stay away from its waters. Others began a facebook page complaining about the situation and posting photographs of the Liberty of the Seas sailing nearby Cape Ampelio.

The local residents felt that the cruise ship was performing a "bow" or a "salute" to the city, not unlike the reckless maneuver performed by the infamous Captain Schettino aboard the Costa Concordia near the island of Giglio which caused 32 people to die.     

There are Italian regulations which prohibit ships over 500 tons to sail within 2 nautical miles from the outer perimeters of national parks and protected areas, marine and coastal ecosystems. In other areas, there apparently is not a specified distance where large vessels are prohibited, and it is the authority of the Italian Coast Guard or harbor masters to determine how close large cargo ships and cruise ships may sail.

The newspaper writes that the Italian Coast Guard was monitoring the passage of the Liberty of the Seas and had concluded that although the cruise ship was near the coast, it was "not excessively" close. The incident occurred two months ago.

The question remains whether this was an authorized departure from the cruise ship's planned route, or a "thought" of the ship's captain to salute the town or provide interesting viewing for the passengers.

Bordighera Italy - Liberty of the Seas Salute?

Royal Caribbean Posts Bogus Comment to Article Regarding Alleged Near Collision Involving Liberty of the Seas

Yesterday I blogged about a near collision which allegedly occurred between Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and a small Italian fishing boat, the Angela II, which is based in Civitavecchia.   

You can read my article: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas Nearly Runs Over Italian Fishing Boat. The article was based on an account from the highly credible cruise blog Noticias de Cruceros.  You can also read about the incident here from an Italian newspaper.

This morning, someone posted a comment to my article, claiming that the near collision story was a lie, and suggesting that the Italian authorities made it up.  The person who posted the comment claims that Royal Caribbean Cruises - Bogus PR he was on the cruise ship and says that the fishing boat had no fishing equipment and that it was the Liberty of the Seas which altered course and passed the boat by some 250 meters.  

Now, I was not on the cruise so I don't know what happened. There are two sides to every story and I'd like to know what really happened.

We have the fishing boat's version of events. There is no official corporate statement by Royal Caribbean at this point.  And I can find no comments from the passengers on the cruise ship.  Just this one comment to my blog:    

"It's such a lie, what they wrote there,I been on this ship and watch what happened.This fishing boat was with out any fishing equipment and just suddenly start to run towards the ship from close distance.The ship is the one who alter course to avoid collision,where fishing boat just stopped dead in front of them and distance when we pass fishing boat was over 250 mtrs.

However,it's was a nice try from Italian authorities to blame the ship,but not their own fishing boat,for creating such a dangerous situation for the ship."

The person leaving the comment left only a first name and a bogus email address: John10@gmail.com.

After a little research, I determined that the comment  was posted by someone at Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami.  How do I know that?  I'm not saying.  But I am 100% certain that it was sent from the Royal Caribbean offices near the port of Miami.

Cruise Law News (CLN) is a very popular blog. Lots of people love to cruise but subscribe to this blog to get "the other side of the story."  Many major cruise lines here in Miami understand that. They will respond to our inquiries about issues we write about here and send us press statements. If we have our facts wrong, the cruise lines will call or send us an email.  I will immediately post their statements to set the record  straight, even if the statements are pure PR drivel.  

But Royal Caribbean is different. It is the least transparent cruise line in the business. It refuses to respond to requests for information.  Instead of issuing a corporate statement under its letterhead, it will be sneaky and try and slide in a comment pretending to be a passenger, and an eye witness at that! What kind of reputable PR department acts like this? 

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas Nearly Runs Over Italian Fishing Boat

The popular cruise blog Noticias de Cruceros reports that yesterday the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship almost collided with a small Italian fishing vessel, the Angelo II based in Civitavecchia, in waters near the port city of Latium on the western coast of Italy.  

According to Noticias de Cruceros, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was on a collision course with the Angela II, which had deployed its cables and fishing nets and was trawling for fish.  The captain of the much smaller fishing boat radioed the Liberty of the Seas as it was bearing down on the boat, but the cruise ship neither responded nor altered course.  

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas - Near Collision - Angela II Fishing BoatThe captain of the Angela II had to cut all of its cables and nets and execute an emergency maneuver to avoid being run over by the Liberty of the Seas which passed 15 meters (less than 35 feet) away. 

The captain notified the Italian Coast Guard which opened an administrative investigation, which could turn into a criminal investigation if the authorities conclude that the cruise ship ignored its radar and the cries from the fishing vessel via radio and refused to alter course.

The Angela II also alleges economic damages after its cables and nets sank.

The Noticias de Cruceros blog points out that giant cruise ships like the Liberty of the Seas are chock full of sophisticated technical equipment like radar, VHF, electronic charts, GPS, and many other systems. However the problem is that notwithstanding all of this technology, the bridge officers can make reckless decisions like intentionally sailing close to shore (a la' Costa Concordia) or ignoring cries for help (a la' Star Princess) or, in this case, not answering the radio or changing course to avoid a collision with a smaller fishing boat.

The blog concludes that while the cruise industry is considering improvements to its operating procedures, consideration must be given to re-evaluating the staffing of the bridge team and the training of the bridge officers to maintain a proper lookout. 

 

July 8, 2012 Update:  

First Update:  An article about the alleged near-collision in an Italian newspaper can be read here

I have not read any comments by passengers about the incident (like Cruisemates or Cruise Critic) and am curious whether anyone can confirm or deny the newspaper account?  If you were a passenger or crew member on the cruise and have information to share, please leave a comment below. Anyone have photographs or video to share?

Second Update:  The first comment below was sent by someone at Royal Caribbean offices in Miami. Read our article about this sneaky comment: 

Royal Caribbean Posts Bogus Comment to Article Regarding Alleged Near Collision Involving Liberty of the Seas

Third Update:  Cruise Critic reports that Royal Caribbean confirms that "Liberty of the Seas was in close proximity to a small vessel on July 4th."  However, a PR representative for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Critic "We are still working to gather all the facts, so I cannot confirm or deny the information,"

$200,000,000 False Imprisonment Lawsuit Filed Against Royal Caribbean, in Wrong Courthouse

There are lots of strange things that happen on cruise ships. I've written many articles about excessive alcohol consumption and aberrant conduct during cruises.  I even created a category of "weird" cruise stories. 

This morning I read an article which fits squarely in the "weird" category.

The New York Post writes about about "two pals" who jetted from New York to Fort Lauderdale to board Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.  But instead of a fun cruise with stops in Jamaica and the beautiful private cruise destination of Labadee, the two men found themselves locked away in the Liberty of the Seas - False Imprisonmentcruise ship's brig, accused of raping a young woman.   

The case involves Eviatar Mor, celebrating his 22nd birthday, and his "buddy," fellow New Yorker David Amsalem, age 26.

After the two men went to bed on the first night of the cruise, Royal Caribbean's security personnel woke them up around 5:00 AM.  The two men claim that they were forced into wearing "prison garments issued by Royal Caribbean" and paraded "through public areas of the ship to a lock-up facility. The Post tells us about their allegedly "grueling" treatment in a “small, windowless cell” after they were accused of raping a passenger.  

The Post quotes Mor saying: "I was in such stress. I can't explain how scared I was."  

The men allege that the alleged victim "recanted" and the ship doctor allegedly found no evidence of a sexual assault, but they were still held in the brig. 

They hired a lawyer, Paul Batista, who filed suit in Manhattan seeking what is described as "at least $100,000,000 each" on allegations including false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, and “outrageous conduct causing emotional distress.”

So, what's my take on these allegations?

I don't like to hear about attorneys inserting astronomical demands for money in lawsuits. $200,000,000 for a week in the cruise ship slammer?  This isn't torture in the dungeon in Midnight Express.  The public hates to read about trial attorneys trying to make their clients overnight multi-millionaires based on dubious or overblown allegations.  It's a publicity stunt and it's a bad idea.  Just last week another lawsuit against a cruise line seeking $200,000,000 for 4 crewmembers was filed in New York.  So in one week 6 people are seeking $400,000,000 from 2 cruise lines?

Secondly, the forum selection clause in the men's ticket requires that the lawsuit be filed in Miami, not Manhattan. There is a 100% certainty that the case will be dismissed from the New York court.

Now, let's turn to the men's allegations.  They claim that they were "dressed in prison garments" and "paraded through the ship? Royal Royal Caribbean Prison - Liberty of the SeasCaribbean doesn't have "prison" attire. Even if the cruise line put the men in striped zoot suits, it was 5:00 AM and no one is up that early in the morning anyway. 

For some strange reason, the article makes a point of describing them as "both Orthodox Jews from Israel," with their lawyer accusing the cruise line of "Gestapo tactics inflicted on two innocent men." Nazi-Jew analogies are disrespectful in this context, particularly considering that Royal Caribbean hires many, many security guards from Israel.  I hardly think that cruise line president Goldstein hires Nazi's to oppress Orthodox Jews on his fleet of ships.  

The most disturbing thing about this messy case is the refusal by the two men to state whether they had sex with the woman. If you're really looking for $200,000,000 you better be prepared to talk about some embarrassing issues. Plus consider their lawyer's comments that the rape claim “came from a woman who was drunk and who was plainly goaded into making it by a group of people with whom she was traveling.”

Of course it is highly relevant whether the woman was so intoxicated that she could not consent to sex. Since when is claiming that the alleged victim was drunk a defense to a rape allegation?

The Post quotes Amsalem reminiscing on his experience saying: "The next time we go on vacation, no girls."

Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said the men had been accused of “a serious crime,” and that the company “takes all allegations of crime seriously."

Just yesterday I blogged about out-of-control drinking on the Liberty of the Seas and the correlation to sexual assault allegations.  This is the type of mess that comes out of that environment.

Cruise booze.  Allegations of rape, recanted or not?  Allegations of false imprisonment, worth $200,000,000, filed in the wrong jurisdiction?  

Whoever you believe, this is an ugly story.     

May 19, 2012 Update:  Video interview of the two men by local TV station.

When Will Royal Caribbean Replace the Dangerous Stairs in the Catacombs Lounge on the Liberty of the Seas?

Last week, a Royal Caribbean guest fell while trying to descend a stairwell in the Catacombs lounge on the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.

We wrote about the incident in our article: Royal Caribbean Passenger Falls & Dies on Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship.

A number of former passengers aboard this cruise ship left comments to our article:

Stairs Catacombs Nightclub - Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship. . . those stairs are so dangerous, why would they have stairs like this at a bar?????? while drinking is going on etc! No traction, no carpet,  Nothing . . . 

. . .  they looked dangerous and slippery.  Pretty? Yes - but dangerous . . .

. . . they are incredibly dangerous!!! . . .

. . .  those stairs, are EXTREMELY Dangerous.  Even from the picture you can see that they have little to no tread and no skid protection.  Mix that with heels, lack of bright lighting, drinking, and possible spillage..and you have a recipe for disaster . . .

Well, disaster did strike, and cruise passenger Barbara Wood died as a result.  Was this a freak accident?  No.  Royal Caribbean knew before this latest accident that these stairs pose a danger to their guests.  It has been sued before. 

One of the Miami maritime lawyers who I regularly consult with, Glenn Holzberg, filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean for a fall on these steps.  The lawsuit which Glenn filed alleges that back in September 2007, a cruise passenger: 

 . . . was on board the Liberty of the Seas, when she slipped and fell down the stairway within the Catacombs Lounge leading to the deck below, causing her to repeatedly strike her forehead and face and resulting in serious and permanent damage including a concussion, and closed head injuries. The direct and proximate cause of the fall was the condition and design of the stairway and individual stairs, making it difficult to distinguish one step from another, and the darkness in the Catacombs lounge leading to and surrounding the stairway . . .

Did Royal Caribbean make any changes to the stairwell after this earlier serious accident over the past 4 years?   Did it improve the lighting conditions around the stairwell?  Did it place any warning signs around the area? 

How many other passengers have been injured at this location? 

How many more injuries and deaths will it take before Royal Caribbean replaces these pretty but dangerous steps?

 

If you sailed on the Liberty and experienced difficulties with these steps, please consider leaving a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  Sean Lloyd (Flickr)

Royal Caribbean Passenger Falls & Dies on Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

Liberty of the Seas - Catacombs News sources are reporting that a passenger died aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this morning after falling down a staircase. 

Massachusetts resident, Barbara Wood, age 47, reportedly was leaving the Catacombs nightclub aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas at about 1:48 a.m. when she fell on the stairs and struck her head, according to a statement by the Broward County Sheriff's office. 

Ms. Wood was taken to the ship’s infirmary where she was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m., according to the Sheriff's office.  Sheriff’s deputies met the cruise ship when it docked at 5 a.m. at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. 

The Royal Caribbean PR spokesperson stated that the company would not speculate on what caused the accident. 

It should be noted that there should be closed circuit television (CCTV) maintained by the cruise line which should have captured the accident and should reveal exactly what happened.  It is less than clear where the accident occurred although the stairs around this club are extremely decorative. 

Any time an accident occurs late at night and near a nightclub, there is speculation that alcohol may have been involved.  This is nothing new.  Alcohol sales are a fundamental part of the cruise Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship - Catacombs experience, and alcohol is often pushed by the cruise lines. 

Royal Caribbean has undoubtedly already carefully reviewed this passenger's onboard purchases and determined exactly how many alcoholic beverages, if any, she purchased last night.  The cruise line will also have reviewed the CCTV images and interviewed those at the scene of the accident.  

To the extent that alcohol played any part in the accident, the maritime law regarding the liability of cruise lines is well settled.  In Hall v. Royal Caribbean, a passenger "was injured on the high seas when, after having been served alcohol by the vessel's employees to and obviously past the point of intoxication, he staggered from a lounge, and while unable to look after himself fell down two flights of open stairways." 

The appellate court reversed the trial court's dismissal of the case, finding that the dismissal "must be reversed because the complaint clearly stated a cause of action for breach of the defendant's duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers."  

If you were on the cruise and have additional information to add, please leave a comment below.

February 4, 2012 Update:

This i snot the first serious accident on the Liberty o fthe Seas involving the Catacombs stairwells: When Will Royal Caribbean Replace the Dangerous Stairs in the Catacombs Lounge on the Liberty of the Seas?

 

Photo credit:  Bottom photo - skinnie minnie / Flickr page

Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Belize is reporting that a 21 year old cruise passenger went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship and disappeared today. 

7 News Belize reports that the passenger went overboard from the 12th deck of the cruise ship.  The passenger's family noticed that he was missing around 9:00 a.m. this morning.  When the young man could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras that showed him going overboard from the twelfth deck of the ship at 3:25 am.  The article indicates that is is unclear whether the passenger jumped or fell. 

Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Overboard This is a story which has not been reported in the mainstream press, yet.  It is highly unlikely that the young man jumped as speculated by the media in Belize.  Was he over-served alcohol, which would reflect negligence by the cruise line?  Was there evidence of foul play, again not likely but to be considered.  

A pro-cruise website "Cruise News Daily" has a few sentences on the incident which seems to be based on the Belize newspaper.  But the website claims that "a review of the ship's security cameras found footage of the man climbing over the railing on Deck 12, and then letting go."  There is no reference to a source for this allegation.     

Does someone on the cruise have information regarding this sad story?    

January 7, 2011 Update:

A radio station in Belize has the following information regarding this incident:

"Search efforts for a missing cruise ship passenger were halted today as the Port Authority of Belize and National Coast Guard Service were given directives to discontinue their efforts. 53-year-old Puerto Rican Margarita Sandini Tello reported that her son 21-year-old Jose Miguel Pietri Tello was missing off the cruise ship, Liberty of the Seas. Surveillance cameras showed the young man jumping or falling off the twelfth deck of the ship shortly after three thirty on Wednesday morning. The family of the twenty one year old reported to cruise personnel that they noticed that he was missing around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and when he could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras. The Belize Port Authority along with the National Coast Guard were called in to search for the body as the incident occurred in Belize waters  . . . " 

A newspaper in Belize contains a quote from the local police that  “video footage was obtained where it was observed that Jose [Jose Miguel Pietri Tello, 21, of Puerto Rico] jumped off the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship at 3:38 a.m.”    

January 9, 2011 Update:

Passengers from the cruise ships are indicating that the young man may have been over-served alcohol which resulted in him becoming disoriented and falling from the cruise ship. The Belize translation of events that this young man "jumped" seem bogus.   Is this an incident like young cruise passenger Daniel DiPiero who was over-served alcohol and disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas after being over-served alcohol? 

January 19, 2011 Update:

We received a number of comments (below) emailed from a "Joe" using a hotmail email account.  The comments are the usual its-a-matter-of-personal-responsibility rather than corporate responsibility type of thing.  Very disrespectful.  We have determined, 100%, that the comments came from a computer at Royal Caribbean.  Is it a PR person or someone in a position of management?  Or a misguided  employee?  We don't know, but we know the comments came from Royal Caribbean.  Pitiful than a cruise employee uses an alias and a bogus hotmail account.  Only at Royal Caribbean does this foolishness occur.  

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

Are Cruise Ships Equipped To Handle Bomb Threats On The High Seas?

The local news media is reporting that Royal Caribbean recently received a bomb threat aboard the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.

According to a news release by the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Caribbean's reservation center in Wichita, Kansas received a call reporting a bomb aboard the cruise ship around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15th.  Crew members searched the ship but did not find anything.  The Liberty of the Seas proceeded on with the cruise and arrived back in Miami around 6:00 a.m. the next morning.  FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection agents then boarded the cruise Liberty of the Seas - Bomb Threatship to look for explosives, but they did not find anything. 

There have been a number of bomb threat hoaxes recently.  Perhaps the most publicized one was when a passenger from Virginia named Ibrahim Khalil Zarou who was reportedly quite intoxicated - Bomb Hoax Gets Drunken Carnival Cruise Passenger Arrested

Fortunately, these bomb threats turned out to be hoaxes.  But what if they were real

In this most recent bomb threat, the FBI and other federal agencies did not board the cruise ship until eleven hours later. 

Are cruise lines equipped to handle a real terrorist threat on the high seas?  Most cruise lines have as few as 2 or 3 security guards on duty at night and some lines do not monitor their surveillance cameras (except in the casinos).   Is this adequate security for 3,000 to 4,000 passengers and crew?

Our experience suggests that the few security personnel on cruise ships have a difficult enough time deterring or responding to bar fights between drunken passengers.  A real terrorist threat on the high seas will pose a real problem to the cruise industry. 

For additional information, please read:

Terror on the High Seas

CBP Will Study Costs of Requiring Cruise Ships to Hand Over Their Passenger Reservation Data

 

Credits

Liberty of the Seas photograph           News 7 Miami

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

There have been a few news stories about a cruise ship "passenger' dying of Legionnaire's disease after sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

The Miami Herald and the South Florida Business Review ("Legionnaire's May Be Linked to Ship") Libert of the Seas - Disease of the Seas? published articles last week about Mr. Tore Myhra - described as an "English tourist" - who died November 1st at Jackson Memorial Hospital after sailing for a week on the Liberty of the Seas. I commented on the story - Liberty of the Seas & Legionnaires' Disease - Disease of the Seas?

The Miami medical examiner's office reported that Mr. Myhra became sick on the cruise ship and suffered "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and dry cough.''  His symptoms worsened and he died of "Legionella pneumophila pneumonia" the day after he departed the cruise ship.

The popular on-line cruise community CruiseCritic.com also reported on the story in an article entitled "Cruise Passenger Among Recent Legionnaire's Victims." Cruise Critic tried to interview Royal Caribbean who refused to disclose the name of its "passenger." 

Instead of discussing the death of the passenger, Royal Caribbean crisis management spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, released a statement which is posted on the Cruise Critic site as follows:

"Although we do not know the source of the guest's legionellosis, we have taken more than 90 Legionnaire's Diseasedifferent water samples from the ship over the past few months as part of our routine water testing program, and all those tests have come back negative regarding the bacteria that can cause the illness.

Nevertheless, we are taking some precautionary steps onboard, which are being done in an abundance of caution, to maintain our high health standards, and as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include special sanitizing of key areas onboard, including whirlpools and the H2O Zone. Like our guests, we take all health issues seriously."

This is a disturbing statement.

Only 90 water samples over the course of several months?  If a "passenger" became diseased and the routine tests results are negative, this could mean that the cruise line simply did not test a sufficient number of locations. 

The Liberty of the Seas is a huge cruise ship.  90 samples is a grossly insufficient number of water samples over the course of many months.  There are thousands of water faucets, drinking fountains, shower heads, whirlpools, saunas, flo-riders, spas, H2O zones, and other water sources on a ship this large. It is widely known that Royal Caribbean is making financial cutbacks throughout its fleet.  Testing water samples is expensive. 

Has Royal Caribbean cut back on the number of water samples to save money?

The cruise line should be taking several hundreds of samples a month on a routine basis, with repeat testing. And the samples should be tested at national laboratories whose reputations are beyond reproach. Liberty of the Seas - H2O Zone - Legionnaire's Disease?After a death like this, there should be literally over a thousand tests conducted to test every possible source of this disease.   

What is also disturbing is that Royal Caribbean failed to mention that Mr. Myhra was not only a "passenger" but was the former Captain (i.e., Master) of several Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Captain Myhra was the Master of the Monarch of the Seas and one of the cruise line's very first cruise ships, Song of America.  

Captain Myhra is of Norwegian descent. He lived in England after he retired from Royal Caribbean.  By all accounts, Captain Myhra was an a good guy and an accomplished mariner.  He was well liked by the crew of the cruise ships on which he served as Master.  

In 1998, he ran into a bit of bad luck when the Monarch of the Seas ran into a reef after entering the harbor in St. Maarten in the middle of the night to bring a sick passenger ashore for emergency medical treatment. The incident occurred on December 15, 1998, when the cruise ship grounded on Proselyte Reef, in Great Bay, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles. The vessel Monarch of the Seas - Grounded - St. Maarten - Tore Myhrasustained heavy damage to the hull and began to take on water, requiring Captain Myhra to ground the ship to keep it from sinking. The passengers were taken from the beached cruise ship via tenders. 

There are a number of interesting reports of this incident, including a detailed marine casualty report from the U.S. Coast Guard and Norwegian maritime investigators (which contains Royal Caribbean Safety Management System - SMS - documents available on line). 

In 1999, shortly after this debacle, Captain Myhra resigned from Royal Caribbean.  Even though he was not at the helm when the ship hit the reef, he took responsibility. 

Word has it that after retirement from the cruise business, he began a highly successful camping business called Rose Farm Touring & Camping Park in England with his wife, Susan, and their children.  

Captain Myhra ended his career with Royal Caribbean trying to help a sick passenger in the middle of the night by diverting the cruise into port for emergency medical care. 

It is beyond irony that "passenger" Myhra's life was cut short when he became ill and Royal Caribbean kept him on the Liberty of the Seas until the end of the cruise, only to die in a public hospital in Miami the next day.    

September 26, 2009 Update: The story gets worse. "Royal Caribbean Delivers Cruel Blow to Widow of Beloved Captain Tore Myhra."

 

Credits:

Liberty of the Seas   BobDarling1956 Webshots

Legionella cells  Scienceblogs.com

Liberty of the Seas H2O Zone  The Travel Advocate

Monarch of the Seas   CaptainsVoyage         

Liberty of the Seas & Legionnaires' Disease - Disease of the Seas?

Legionella - Cruise ShipThe Miami Herald reports today that a tourist from the U.K. who died from Legionnaires' disease had previously sailed on a seven-day Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.  

The newspaper identifies the English cruise passenger as Mr. Tore Myhra. 

Previously, there was speculation that Mr. Myhra may have contracted the disease at a local hotel here in Miami, the luxurious Epic Hotel & Residences.  However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control ("CDC") said that the hotel was not implicated in his death because another person who died of the same strain of Legionella had not stayed at the hotel. 

The Herald's article today raises the issue whether Mr. Myhra was exposed to Legionella on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The newspaper quotes the medical examiner's report that Mr. Myhra became sick on the cruise ship and suffered "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and dry cough.''

The newspaper reports that when the Liberty of the Seas ship returned to port in Miami on October 31st, Mr. Myhra was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. His symptoms worsened and he died of "Legionella pneumophila pneumonia" on November 1st at the hospital. 

Royal Caribbean's PR spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, is quoted as saying that the cruise ship "reacted quickly" to the report of the Legionnaires' case.  It is less than clear what this means, Legionella - Cruise Shipbecause the cruise ship kept the sick passenger on the ship and did not request a medevac with the Coast Guard.

The Herald also interviewed a spokesman from the Center for Disease Control.  The newspaper reports that the CDC has investigated "five or six cases of Legionnaires' disease aboard cruise ships going in and out of South Florida in the past three months."

The CDC representative appears to be assisting the cruise line in damage control, based on the CDC's quotes in the newspaper: 

"All appropriate steps have been taken.'' 

"Cruise ships are very aggressive in responding to such outbreaks." 

Cruising is "a very safe endeavor.''

The CDC refused to identify the cruise ships where passengers contracted Legionnaires' disease, which is unfortunate because this should be public information. The obvious question remains - did the Liberty of the Seas have prior cases of Legionella?

It makes me nervous when a Federal agency acts like a cheerleader for the cruise lines while refusing to disclose public information regarding which cruise ships may have Legionella.

UPDATE:

The South Florida Business Journal has an excellent article today "Legionnaire's May Be Linked to Ship."  The articles refers to comments posted on the popular CruiseCritic site that a passenger on the Liberty of the Seas had been diagnosed with Legionnaire's, so the H20 Zone and hot tubs were closed . . .

 Liberty of the Seas

Cruise Ship - Legionella Information:

Legionnaires' Disease During Cruise Linked to Water Supply

Legionnaires' Disease Is Cited in Cruise Death On Celebrity Cruise Ship

CDC: What is Legionnaires' disease?

 

 

Credits:

Legionella cells                     scienceblogs.com

Legionella in lungs               nalcoeurope.com

Liberty of the Seas                hassocka5489 (via wikemedia commons)