We take the beginning of this new year to thank our readers for following us over the past twelve months.

The motto of this site is "everything cruise lines don’t want you to know." We rely on our passenger-and crew-member friends to keep us informed when things go wrong on the high seas and in ports of call outside of the U.S. 

We particularly appreciate those of you who have taken the time to stay in touch with us over Cruise Law News the course of this year. We have been kept informed of power losses, missing passengers and crew members, increasingly difficult conditions facing crew members and medevacs-at-sea. 

I have been in Miami, rightfully called the cruise ship capital of the year, for the past thirty years. To say that the cruise industry has grown considerably over the last several decades may be an understatement! Cruise ships have becone increasingly larger and larger over the years. Unfortunately, the legal rights of hard-working crew members have substantially declined over this time period.

1,665,242 different people viewed 5,636,038 pages of this blog this year, so thanks for following us!

We wish everyone the best of health and success for 2017!

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

Jim Walker Cruise Law BlogFirst Site Guide just announced the Best Law Blogs to Follow. It names 23 law blogs to follow and ranks them on three criteria: Alexa rankings, social media followers (total number of followers combined from the blog’s social media profiles including Facebook and Twitter), and SemRush Rank (ranked by organic traffic coming from Google’s top 20 organic search results).

It says that is is "judge, jury, and executioner as far as this list is concerned. The chosen blogs are guilty of being the best law blogs on the internet."

Cruise Law News is first of all law blogs in social media followers (around 210,000); fourth in Alexa rankings and fourth in SemRush rankings. We have a popular Facebook page and we are active on Twitter.

The list includes 23 law blogs, many of which I read regularly. There are a few that are new to me, like Hugh Hewitt, the self-titled blog which has been very informative during this election year.   

Royal Caribbean Freedom of Seas Fire Cruise Law News was read by over 2,000,000 different people last year (2015) who read over 7,000,000 pages. 2006 looks like another popular year, with over 200,000 different people reading over 650,000 pages in the last month. 

Our motto is "everything cruise lines don’t want you to know." We try to be among the first to report when things go wrong on the high seas. We have many friends on cruise ships at sea who contact us when there has been a fire, or a crime, or someone who has gone overboard.

For example, when the Freedom of the Seas caught fire heading into Falmouth, Jamaica this last summer, a crew member friend of ours videotaped the fire. The video was watched over 1,150,000 times on our Facebook page and was widely circulated by international news outlets. We also posted photographs of the extensive fire damage Royal Caribbean Freedom of Seas Fire taken on the ship. Marine experts around the world chimed in.

The cruise line effectively misled the public about the extent of the fire and acted recklessly continuing to sail without a thorough post-fire inspection and survey.  Read the Royal Caribbean "Small Fire" Hoax.

We have also exposed crew members ordered to hide food and galley equipment from U.S.P.H. inspectors and dumping garbage bags and oily rags into a marine sanctuary at night

When the cruise executives say that they are going to make a lot of money sailing passengers into North Africa and the Middle East, we will be the first one to urge caution and call them out when they sail their guests into danger.

We have a perspective which comes from representing many hundreds of cruise passengers and crew members and battling the cruise lines here in Miami.  

Thanks for reading our blog!  Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter,

Today, I was picked by Go Port Canaveral (a publication of Florida Cruise Ports, Inc.) as one of "Our Favorite Cruise Blogs."

Admittedly, I am (very) critical of the cruise industry and, as such, I assumed that automatically disqualified me from a cruise sponsored competition. 

But lo and behold Cruise Law News was not only picked as one of the top eight cruise blogs but the Go Port Canaveral people gave my law blog Cruise Blogtop billing to boot. Here’s what Go Port Canaveral had to say:

"Jim Walker is a partner at the law firm Walker & O’Neill and the go to source for legal services on the high seas. If there’s a question of liability or a crime committed on a cruise ship Mr. Walker and Cruise Law are usually the first to report it. If you have a concern about safety on ship or during a port call Cruise Law is the place to visit to find out what to watch for and where. He’s been the go to source for news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Mr. Walker also takes a moral stance on some issues like whaling in the Faroe Islands or drinking aboard. You may not necessarily agree with his opinions, but it is nice to see a lawyer with scruples, and one that is honest with them."

Thanks Go Port Canaveral! 

Photo Credit:  Go Port Canaveral Favorite Cruise Blogs

Vote Cruise Law NewsThe Expert Institute has a law blog competition between 250 law blogs.  

The institute received more than 2,000 nominations for the "Best Legal Blog Contest." It then narrowed the field to 250 blogs which it is calling the "most exciting, entertaining, and informative legal blogs online today."

Cruise Law News was placed in the "Niche & Specialty" category. There are 35 blogs in that category. I was ranked second to last place as of yesterday. Yikes! I am currently in 8th place. 

There are money prizes for first ($1000), second ($500) and third place ($250) in the overall category. I plan on donating the money prize to charity if Cruise Law News is a winner.

Thanks for voting for me.  Just click on this link.  Then click on the voting box which is in the right upper corner just above the number.

Thanks!

In 2014, 1,718,131 people read 6,104,186 people pages of Cruise Law News.  

Our busiest day was April 7, 2014 when over 110,000 visitors read our article when we were the first to report on the murder of a NCL crew member in Roatan, Honduras near the port. 

Crime in ports of call was a hot topic for 2014.  Our article Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World was re-tweeted, liked or shared over 2,800 times.  We named Nassau, Bahamas as the most dangerous port in the world and said that Nassau was "one shot away" from losing the cruise industry, which placed us on television in the Bahamas and on the front cover of the Nassau Jim Walker Cruise Lawyer MiamiGuardian.

We broke a number of stories that the cruise industry would prefer that you didn’t know.  We published videos of MSC crew members dumping plastic garbage bags in a marine sanctuary in Brazil.  A number of news organizations in the U.K., Switzerland, and Australia & New Zealand republished them around the world. 

We appeared in over 100 newspapers articles and on CNN, ABC and other television and radio programs.  Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know," so don’t expect to see glossy photos of idyllic cruise vacations here.

The problem of passengers and crew members disappearing on the high seas continued throughout 2014. ABC News featured us in an investigation why the cruise lines are refusing to install man overboard systems in compliance with the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act. A few cruise lines, like Holland America Line (HAL), claim that they are testing man-overboard technology but just last week a crew member disappeared from the HAL Ryndam

The premiere legal blog in the world, Above the Law, included us as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014." Lexblog picked us as the Blog of the Year and selected us as one of the top two lawyer "citizen journalists."

I was most pleased that Cruise Law News came in as number six (and the only blog written by a lawyer) out of the top twenty national cruise blogs selected by USA Today, in a national poll of cruise fans. 

Our Facebook page has over 135,000 followers, mostly crew members as well as cruise passengers and travel agents who wish to remain anonymous. We receive many thousand of comments a month. We routinely receive real-time insights into problems on cruise ships from passengers and the crew.

Thanks for reading us in 2014.  And many thanks to the passengers and crew members who sent us tips, info and videos from the high seas.

 

If you have a comment to share, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Cruise Law News just celebrated our five year anniversary. 

It’s difficult to remember a time when we did not have a blog to comment on the ins-and-outs of the cruise industry and the ports of call where the cruise ships unload their passengers. Since 2009, I’ve written over 2,100 articles and received over 8,000 comments from our readers.

In 2014, Cruise Law News has been mentioned in over one hundred newspapers, television programs, cable news program, and radio shows.  We have broken many stories that the cruise industry would have preferred that we not mention, such as MSC Cruises dumping garbage bag in the seas, Royal Cruise Law NewsCaribbean exploiting its crew members and Carnival cutting employment programs that existed for years while the cruise CEO’s racked in the cash.

Our motto remains writing about "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know," and we believe that we have lived up to that goal. 

Our blog is ranked the fourth most popular law blog in the United States and the number one law blog authored by a law firm as opposed to a for-profit commercial website.  

A year ago at our fourth year anniversary, I wrote that "1,000,000 different people read over 3,500,000 pages of our blog in the last 12 months."  We have far exceeded those numbers in 2014. In just the first four days of this month alone, over 86,000 unique users have read over 239.000 pages of our website. We have a readership which substantially exceeds the paid circulation of the newspaper of the town where I was born.  

Our Facebook page has over 126,000 followers, mostly crew members as well as cruise passengers and travel agents who wish to remain anonymous. We receive many thousand of comments a month. We routinely receive real-time insights into problems on cruise ships from passengers and the crew.

You either love us or hate us.

I receive more than my fair share of hate e-mail. However, many people write to us and thank us for bringing attention to issues such as crew members working 12 hour a day for just $550 a month or sexual assaults of children on the "fun ships," the cruise industry’s dirtiest secret. We warn passengers about crime in the tropical ports of call where the cruise lines collect millions of dollars of tax-free money.

We have followed our clients to testify before Congress to advocate in support of legislation to protect cruise passengers and write about the experiences as they occur.

There’s always the other side of the cruise story. We try to be the first to tell it. 

Thanks for reading Cruise Law News!

Last month, 247,433 people read 843,370 pages of Cruise Law News (per Google Analytics). That’s a record month for us.

If our readership continues to grow, as it has done over the years, we are on track to having 3,000,000 people reading over 10,000,000 pages of our blog a year.

Our blog is currently the number three most popular law blog in the U.S. (via Alexa) and the number one Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirusmost popular law blog in the U.S. written by a practicing lawyer (again via Alexa).

The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know."  If you want idyllic images of perfect cruise ship vacations to tropical paradises, stick to the travel publications and cruise fan blogs. We offer a glimpse into the world of cruising that the cruise executives prefer you not know.

In the last year, we broke stories involving MSC Cruises dumping garbage bags at sea, Silvesea Cruises hiding carts of food from U.S. health inspectors, and Carnival scrapping its crew retirement program.  We provide an inside look at norovirus outbreaks that the cruise lines always blame on the passengers. This past week, our blog was featured in newspapers and on television in the Bahamas regarding the issue of crime against cruise passengers.

Thank you for reading our blog. Take a moment and subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed or sending us your e-mail address in the box to the lower left.

You can also follow the latest developments in the intersecting worlds of cruise ships and the practice of law on our Facebook page.

Thanks!

Tomorrow the lawyers here at our firm are traveling again to Jamaica.

We’ll be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. I will be meeting friends in Falmouth and will see if there has been any signs of the revitalization of the town after the new Royal Caribbean port destroyed ancient coral reefs and native mangroves to make way for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas

We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members who need to learn about the Injured Crew Members - Jamaica - Lawyers legal rights of cruise ship employees who become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

I will be arriving at Montego Bay tomorrow morning and I will be available to meet with crew members or their family for two days (Monday and Tuesday). I’ll  be hosting a free conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. The address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios. Please come with your questions or concerns. No fee or obligation of course.

My co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from a prior visit to the famous "No Problem Room." 

If Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney or some other cruise line has treated you poorly after you were injured on the ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes, cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

And if you can’t come to the clinic, no problem.  Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday I mentioned our blog’s three year anniversary. I was pleased to receive some positive comments back from our readers, particularly on our facebook page. Here is one comment that I received via email from a travel agent which I thought was nice: 

"Congratulations on three very successful, provocative, educational and to say the least enlightening years. As a travel professional your articles have caused me to reconsider may things I advise my clients on when it comes not only to cruising but while taking land vacations also.

Thanks for all the good work."

One of our goals is to educate the public about some of the hidden dangers of cruising. So it’s encouraging to hear from travel agents who read our blog and learn that they are mentioning some of the issues and safety points we discuss here.

Cruise Ship Lawyer Miami - Royal Caribbean - CarnivalBut our anniversary also brought us hate e-mail as well.  

When I read emails like the one below, I realize that there is no question that we live in a polarized society. Half of the public understands the need for lawyers to help weak & injured people, and to try and keep large corporations in line. The other half of the public views trial lawyers are a sign of the apocalypse:   

"So why do we have to wait in line to sign the silly waivers to do anything like skate, climb or ride the flowrider? You Ambulance chasers make me ashamed to be an American! I’ve been on many cruises and they are working extremely hard providing an outstanding and safe product. You don’t fool most of us — we know it’s all about money! Why don’t you get a real job instead of feeding on the labor of others? I have had many conversations with workers on ships — you know they think we Americans are a bunch of lazy bums looking to sue. It’s true — they laugh at our silly warning labels!

Thank you Mr Lawyer! Mr. Ambulance Chaser."

When I receive emails like this I have to stop and scratch my head. "Waivers" on cruise ships are against the law. There is absolutely no reason to ever stand in a line on a cruise ship to sign a waiver because they are null, void and unenforceable.

Why are they illegal?  Because lawyers fought for injured passengers. In a case we handled, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal recently struck down a cruise line waiver which purported to strip passengers of their legal rights before they can participate in activities like zip lines, wall climbing, flowriders, rock climbing and skating.

Cruise lines hire large teams of lawyers to advance their legal interests. Any case filed against a Miami-based cruise line will be assigned to a team of lawyers and legal assistants – a partner, senior associate, junior associate and a paralegal or two.

In big cases, cruise lines hire a proverbial city of lawyers. Costa cruise line hired dense lawyers in Rome, Genoa, New York, London, Washington DC and Miami to represent it following the Costa Concordia disaster.  

An average passenger or crew member does not stand a chance against a large corporation like Carnival or Royal Caribbean unless they hire a lawyer.

Yes, there are some silly warning signs on some products which are not needed. We can all agree on that and have a good laugh. But if you are a victim of a crime or serious injury during a cruise and don’t hire a lawyer, it will be the cruise line who will be having a laugh at your expense.