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,

Carnival Cruise Triumph FireThe long tortuous tow back to Mobile ended last night with smiles of relief on the faces of the over-3,000-passengers as they straggled off the stinking stricken Triumph.  It was a happy sight to me. Yes, there were people still upset, understandably so, but the sentiment seems to be that they had all encountered a surreal experienced and had survived.

Cruise ship fires do not always turn out this well.  I have represented clients who waved goodbye to their loved one as they boarded a cruise ship only to return in a body bag.

Yesterday I was asked a dozen times during interviews about the rights of passengers when things like this happen on the high seas.  

The cruise lines have drafted terms and conditions in the cruise passenger tickets (considered by the courts to be the legal, binding contract) to protect themselves in virtually every imaginable circumstance.  Unless a passenger is physically injured or become physically ill (say due to the unsanitary conditions of sewage on the ship), they have virtually no rights at all.

The good news is that It appears that there were no injuries due to the fire. There very well may be no serious medical illnesses notwithstanding the seriously disgusting circumstances aboard the ship.       

  

 

Photo credit: Getty Images / NY Daily News

Explorer of the Seas - Drug BustThe Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today on what has become a routine activity when a U.S. based cruise ships arrives in port – Bermuda Customs officials taking sniffer dogs aboard U.S. based cruise ships and arresting cruise passengers for a small quantity of drugs.

This week Bermuda Customs officers boarded the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Pride cruise ships and conducted random searches of passenger cabins before arresting two passengers from New York.  The big bust? One passenger had just 1.5 grams of pot and 0.7 grams of cocaine.  Can you even get high on 1.5 grams of reefer? 

The other passenger had 13 grams of pot.

One contrite busted passenger told Senior Magistrate Judge Archibald Warner "I didn’t have any intention selling it or smoking it on your Island.” The Magistrate was unimpressed and fined the twp passengers a total of $2,400. 

Busting American passengers for small amounts of drugs is big, big business in Bermuda.  We have written about it time after time.  You can read our articles about the crooked way of Bermuda and minor drug busts below: 

Here We Go Again – Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Are You a Stoner? Don’t Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda – Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Warner chastised prosecutors last year for conducting searches of passengers cabins without probable cause or a search warrant. He raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are Bermuda Pot - Cruise Shipslegal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."

The Magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a 28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot.

But it looks like Magistrate Warner is now part of the official machinery in Bermuda for processing small time pot heads to increase customs revenues for the island. 

Meanwhile the Captain of the Bermuda-flagged cruise ship, the Star Princess, operated by Bermuda incorporated Princess Cruises, remains free to sail the world notwithstanding sailing by three fishermen 100 miles off the coast of Panama.  The captain’s I-didn’t-know defense stinks.  2 young men are dead and their bodies are missing at sea.

Too bad that Bermuda focuses its limited resources on cruise ship passengers who use small time recreational drugs, rather than on Bermuda incorporated cruise lines which engage in intentional dereliction of duty leading to death of young men on the high seas.

Several months ago, I predicted that Cruise Law News (CLN) would become a top 25 law blog by the end of the year.  Well, I was a bit off.  CLN is now the top 20th law blog overall per the popular Avvo / Alexa ranking system.  And its only October.

Wow .  .  .  Top 20!  I feel like I sneaked into the AP / UPI football poll, like Boise State before everyone figured out that they have always had a great football program (even if they are in Idaho where it is cold as hell after Thanksgiving).

To get here, I had to pass some super blogs:  Brian Cuba’s great blog The Cuban Revolution which is ranked no. 76 and remains one of my favorites; Eric Turkewitz’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog (no. 45); Carolyn Elefant’s My Shingle (no. 38);  George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley’s blog "Res Ipsa Loquitur (no. 28); the SCOTUS blog (no. 25) (what a terrible acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States – "SCOTUS" sounds like something you would touch only with a glove . . . ); and the terrifically talented but terribly shy Tax Girl (no. 24)(its almost impossible to find her name on her own blog). 

When I over-took one of my favorite cynics, OverLawyered (no. 21), I knew there was no looking back.     

O.K.  Enough about the blogs in my rear view mirror.  Who’s next to fall?  Professor Becker and 7th Circuit Judge Posner’s great Beckner Posner Blog (no. 18) will soon be toast.  And I will pass the Canadian cooperative law blog Slaw, at no. 17, shortly.

Does this sound a bit cocky?  I hope so.  A lack of confidence as a trial lawyer is a sign of weakness, especially in a major metropolitan market like Miami.  And whenever I shamlessly promote my blog like this, I know that the most popular blog is not necessarily the most influential or substantial blog.  Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog wrote an article about not getting caught up in a popularity contest last year – "Engagement versus Vanity."  

My thought is that honking your own horn is just fine, as long as you are engaged and are writing insightful and relevant blogs. 

Another gratifying thing to me is that I have been blogging for only one year and the bloggers I passed have been at it for many years.   I’m sure that none of them have ever heard of CLN.