A number of newspapers are reporting that a resident of New York is suing Celebrity Cruises after he scalded his feet on a hot deck on one of its cruise ships several years ago.

The 66 year-old passenger, who apparently suffered from pre-existing neuropathy of his feet, was sailing aboard the Celebrity Silhouette when the incident occurred. The cruise ship had docked in Greece and, after briefly leaving the ship, he returned to the Silhouette after deciding that it was too hot and he would rather spend time in the cruise ship pool.

The New York Post explains that he reportedly parked his scooter cart near a swimming pool on deck 12 (not sure exactly which one), took off his shoes (and apparently his socks) and walked bare-footed the rest of the distance, around 10-12 feet, to the pool. Because of the nerve damage to his feet, he did not realize the scalding heat of the pool deck surface or the burns to his feet. But when his spouse and another traveling companion joined him in the pool, they noticed that his feet were severely burned and “from toe to heel, the skin was just hanging off,” according to the new accounts. He reportedly declined an offer by the cruise line to fly home for medical treatment. His feet later became infected and he ended up having one of the toes amputated.

He located a lawyer who filed suit against the cruise line in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, seeking $5,000,000 in damages for his injuries and $1,000,000 for his wife’s loss of consortium claim. The lawsuit alleged that Celebrity should have warned passengers about the “extremely hot” deck. The newspaper quoted him saying: “. . . I took off a pair of shoes and left them in the cart to go to the pool. If they had just given a hint that it was that hot…”

The popular cruise blog, Cruise Radio, asked the questions every cruiser wants to know: “Do you believe the cruise line had a responsibility to post warnings about the hot deck? . . . Or should someone with his condition have been more cautious given he returned to the ship due to the heat?”

Of course, the answer to both questions should be “yes.” Any time that a simple warning can avoid serious injury, including the amputation of a portion of a guest’s body, it should be provided. Only the most cynical person would not want to see such mental and physical suffering to be avoided. But at the same time, anyone suffering from peripheral neuropathy affecting his feet should obviously take special precautions to avoid this type of injury. There is no mention in the articles whether the passenger thought to simply touch the surface with his hand and then wear his shoes, or sandals, or flip-flops across the hot deck to the pool.

The news accounts of the lawsuit has generated considerable press, with most readers calling the injured cruise ship guest “stupid” and his lawsuit “frivolous.”

But there is no question that a pool deck can create second degree burns to a passenger on a hot summer day; the cruise lines are aware of this danger and can avoid injury to their guests with an Silhouette Hot Deck Lawsuiteffective warning. There have been a number of lawsuits filed against the Miami based cruise lines for burns due to hot decks.

The case of Gibbs v. Carnival Cruise Line involved an injury to a child, back in 1998, who suffered second degree burns on the soles of his feet when he stepped onto the hot surface of the deck of the Carnival Destiny. The child was under the care of Carnival employees in the cruise ship’s Camp Carnival child care program. His parents had to interrupt the family vacation and return home to New Jersey with their child to care for the boy’s injuries.

In 2012, an Orlando resident sustained severe burns on his feet caused by a hot surface of the Lido pool deck on a Carnival cruise ship. He sued Carnival for his physical injuries, as well as for pain, suffering and mental anguish related to the hot deck. He also alleged that his feet became severely infected due to the poor shipboard medical treatment. The Miami New Times commented on the lawsuit, stating that the “roasting deck surface led to nasty burns, as well as ‘serious and permanent scarring, disfigurement, and embarrassment.'” The New Times article gave the painful ordeal a comical spin in an article titled Lawsuit Claims Hairy Man Contest On Cruise Led To Burned Feet For Florida Man when it was learned that the guest was injured while participating in a “hairy chest” competition on a hot deck.

At least one hot Lido deck – burned feet case, very similar to the current Celebrity case, went to trial against Carnival last year. I heard that it also involved a guest with a pre-existing peripheral neuropathy involving his feet due to diabetes. The case ended with a jury returning a defense verdict against the passenger.

Carnival is not the only cruise line sued for super-hot pool decks. In 2016, a Norwegian Cruise Line passenger sustained second-degree burns on the bottom of his feet. He claimed that NCL failed to warn him that the deck near the pool area was hot enough to cause such an injury. The guest had gone swimming in the ship pool after taking off his flip-flops; but when it was time to get out of the pool, someone had removed his flip-flops, requiring him to step on the hot deck with his bare feet. He suffered from diabetic neuropathy and did not feel the severity of the heat as it burned his feet. His case settled at a mediation conference.

The curious thing about the recent Celebrity lawsuit is that is was filed in federal court in Brooklyn and that it was brought nearly four years after the incident in July 2014. The terms and conditions of all cruise passengers tickets require that lawsuits against Celebrity (as well as NCL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean) must be filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida (a condition which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (see Carnival Cruise Lines v. Shute).

Also, absent an agreement to extend the filing deadline, lawsuits against a cruise line must be filed within one year of the accident/injury. The docket sheet for the Celebrity lawsuit shows that the case was filed on May 10, 2018 (almost 3 years too late). The time for Celebrity’s response is not due until June 1, 2018.

Expect for the cruise line to move to dismiss the case for being filed too late and in the wrong courthouse.

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Photo credit: Top – Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Celebrity ConstellationCelebrity Cruises passengers intending to depart yesterday on the Celebrity Constellation from Barcelona, Spain are stuck in that port for two days due to propulsion issues, even though the cruise ship just came out of dry dock.

During the recent two week dry dock, two new restaurants were constructed and certain suites were refurbished. The software on the ship which manages the turbines and propulsion systems was also upgraded. But shortly after departure from the dry dock facility in Marseilles, France, the Constellation experienced problems with her speed.

The Constellation was scheduled to sail to Monaco, (where the Grand Prix is occurring) and Villefranche. Instead, the cruise ship will sail Genoa and then resume her itinerary.

Popular cruise media sites are reporting that Celebrity promised to accommodate passengers and pay for meals while they stay in Barcelona over this Memorial day weekend as the Constellation is being repaired. Celebrity Cruises has also promised to provide onboard credit of an undisclosed amount for the missed ports. 

Celebrity posted a Facebook message yesterday which reads: "We  regret that we have had to delay the departure of Celebrity Constellation, due to depart on 26th May 2017 from Barcelona. Because we need to resolve an unforeseen technical challenge related to the software that manages the ship’s propulsion, boarding for the cruise will be delayed by two days. Constellation will now depart Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, the 28th May."

Since that time, many Guests expressed frustration on social media due to the lack of updates from Celebrity. Many people asked why they could not simply board the ship and stay in their paid-for cabins rather than experience confusion and delay looking for hotel rooms ashore. One answer may be that the ship is experiencing limited electric power generated from her engines, or that the ship may have to shut down her power system in order to perform the necessary repairs. Either way, this raises the issue whether this is simply a minor problem with the software. 

Cruise line often characterize power losses and profusion problems like this as "technical issues." 

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

Photo credit: Megadri – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Celebrity Cruises SummitCelebrity Cruises announced that it is canceling the April 8, 2017 cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit and is shortening the April 17, 2017 cruise from seven to only four days, passengers are reporting. Celebrity is offering a 25% cruise credit and $200 per person to go toward re-booking airfare. We received this message advising of the changes this past weekend:  

" . . . there are about 4000+ passengers who have just had their spring holiday ruined. Seems Celebrity Summit is having a problem achieving full cruising speed and is canceling cruises just two weeks out, with a horrible offer of compensation. The ship has had reduced ports & port times for a few weeks because it is hobbling along, all while Celebrity says "don’t worry folks, no safety issues here." So now they have completely canceled the 7 days out of San Juan on 4/8/17 and reduced the 4/15/17 cruise for 7 days going out of San Juan to only 4 days. She looks to be going into dry dock for 10 days.

Imagine flying to San Juan for a 4 day cruise? The only air fare compensation is $200 per person which is ridiculous. You would think they would be working with each passenger to get them booked on another cruise for that week, but the passengers say that is not the case. They got an email saying you are canceled. Either completely or you are now on a mini cruise and we will refund you via on-board credit the prorated daily rate for your nice 7 day that is now a mini 4 day. Am not on this cruise personally but Cruise Critic has threads and each roll call does as well and it is apparent there are a lot of mad people. So if each person keeps their airfare and goes on this 4 day mini cruise they have to then get a hotel for 3 nights in San Juan for Easter week which is obscenely expensive. All these passengers are asking what to do….most do not seem to realize they have little to no rights…"

The Summit is apparently suffering from a reduction in its propulsion which has affected some of its prior cruises.

Passengers booked on these cruises are now expressing their natural frustration of having to try and find an alternative vacation at the last minute at high season when the hotel and airfare expenses are appreciably higher. Many people have asked us for advice whether this is "legal."  Unfortunately, the legislation which the cruise passenger’s advocacy group was successful in passing is quite limited in scope and provides no legal recourse under these circumstances. There is, of course, nothing that benefits anyone other than the cruise line in the ticket issued to the passengers. 

As a practical matter, affected passengers probably will lose at least a minimum of $1,000 each in higher airfare and hotels expenses. Considering that there are several thousands of passengers affected, these new and unexpected expenses will probably total well over several millions of dollars.

It’s fanciful to expect that the cruise industry, which is bent on maximizing profits, notwithstanding the tremendous profits that they are collecting, will offer more than the nominal cruise credit and the minimal $200-a-person airfare amount. 

The cruise lines will remind passengers that they should always consider purchasing insurance which applies to this type of occurrence.

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March 29, 2017 Update: Several readers brought to my attention that this is not the first time that the Summit has had to alter its itinerary because of propulsion problems. A seven day cruise to Alaska was canceled back in September of 2004 when Celebrity put the ship in dry-dock for repairs. Passengers booked on the canceled cruise received a full refund and a free future cruise. More recently, Celebrity delayed the start of its March 27th cruise on the Summit from San Juan due to problems with the ship’s propulsion system, which forced the Summit to sail at reduced speeds. The ship had already been docked 3 days in Cozumel earlier in the month while repair efforts were attempted. 

Propulsion problems are relatively common in the cruise industry. Last year, nineteen cruise ships experienced propulsion issues which interrupted and delayed cruises. 

Today, the RCL Blog reported that the Anthem of the Seas is sailing at a reduced speed due to propulsion issues.

Photo credit: Wknight94 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Two cruise passengers are reportedy fighting for their lives and others are seriously injured after an excursion bus collided with a car during a cruise sponsored trip to South Island, according to the Sun newspaper.

The cruise passengers, who were guests from the Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice cruise ship, were on an excursion near the South Island town of Akaroa.

The excursion bus reportedly slammed into a car on a “twisting stretch of road winding through the Celebrity Cruises Bus Excursion Accidentmountain range” near Akaroa, sending the bus careering a hundred feet down a steep embankment.

The bus trip through the mountains to Akaroa from Christchurch includes “perilous hairpin bends where there is barely enough room for two cars to pass each other.”

The bus was carrying more than two dozen passengers from the Celebrity cruise ship.

The Celebrity ship is currently cruising around New Zealand and Australia.

There have been numerous bus excursions in the past several years where guests from Celebrity Cruises and its parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, have been seriously injured or killed. In addition to many cruise sponsored excursion accident in the Caribbean, twelve U.S. cruise passengers from a Celebrity cruise ship died in Chile during an independent excursion bus tour from the Celebrity Millennium.

According to CBS News, a bus of cruise passengers was returning to the Celebrity cruise ship from an excursion to Lauca National Park when the bus plunged off the rugged highway near the city of Arica, 1,250 miles north of Santiagos. The deadly accident occurred in 2006. The excursion bus werved to avoid an approaching truck and tumbled more than 100 yards down a mountainside.

Photo credit: NZ Herald via Sun

Truthfeed Boycott Celebrity CruisesThe ultra conservative Truthfeed website is calling for a boycott of Celebrity Cruises after the cruise line aired a video ad called "Sail Beyond Borders."  

The video calls for cruisers to reject the divisive rhetoric associated with president-elect Donald Trump.

Truthfeed claims that the advertisement is "stunningly rude and inappropriate" and that "smug cruise line Celebrity snubs their snooty noses at Trump and his supporters." In an article which was published yesterday, Truthfeed calls on Trump supporters to boycott Celebrity Cruises. 

The ad states:

  • Far from the talk of building walls, 
  • Far from the threats of keeping people out,
  • Far from the rhetoric of fear, 
  • Is a world of differences,
  • Differences that expand and enrich us, 
  • Because, after all, our lives aren’t made better when we close ourselves off to the world, 
  • They’re made better when we open ourselves up to it.
  • Celebrity Cruises

The boycott movement was started by @MightyBusterBro on Twitter who, earlier this week, posted a mock ad he created on YouTube. The satire video (now removed from YouTube which you can see here) included text overlays stating that Trump supporters are not smart or liberal enough to enjoy Celebrity Cruises. 

As pointed out by Snopes, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo denied that the ad, which was created before Trump was elected, was in response to the Trump campaign. The original ad contains no specific references to Trump or his supporters although the reference to building walls is obviously referring to him. 

Celebrity’s original ad was heavily promoted on ABC and CNN during the presidential debates. Putting ideology aside, it seems risky to alienate tens of millions of potential customers by running a campaign which potentially offends half of the U.S. who supported the build-a-wall candidate. But CEO Lutoff-Perlo seems willing to have taken the risk. She told Skift in September that “I believe anybody that truly looks at this and says, ‘We’re not going to sail on Celebrity again,’ they’re probably not sailing on Celebrity. I hope I get more people than I lose."

Image credit: Truthfeed   

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Celebrity SummitVirgin Islands News Online reports that at least two cruise passengers have been killed and many other passengers injuired on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to Cane Garden Bay beach today in Tortola, British West Indies. 

According to this news report, the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill. 

The newspaper says that the roadway was steep and wet but it does not state how or why the accident occurred.

The cruise passengers were from the Celebrity Summit. Royal Caribbean has tweeted: "We are saddened to report the deaths of two Celebrity Summit guests after a local bus accident in Tortola. Several others are being treated." It earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.  

This is not the first time that cruise passengers from Celebrity’s Summit cruise ship have been seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Summit 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. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: "Celebrity Summit" by Yankeesman312 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia.

This morning we were contacted by passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas indicating that two dockworkers were killed when the cruise ship was leaving the port.

The passengers described the incident as occurring when the two dockworkers were in a small vessel trying to remove the last mooring lines. The Independence of the Seas’ wake allegedly swamped the vessel with its azipods and threw the two men into the water. The vessel then allegedly slammed into the Celebrity Silhouette and overturned.

The two men were described as wearing life-vests, although one vest apparently became loose when the man was tossed into the water.

The passengers who we communicated with were critical that the Independence "launched rescue but not fast enough. Celebrity took 30 min after we launched rescue to respond."  They described a "lack of quick response and feeling of helplessness."

The incident occurred yesterday around 5:00 PM.  The Independence was delayed approximately 3 Independence of the Seas St Kittshours.

The incident has already been posted on social media sites.

The Times Caribbean Blog posted this on Facebook (and the photo to the right):  

"Eyewitnesses suggest that the Cruise Liner may have pulled out before the men had enough time to clear the berthing area. As a result the sea currents created by the massive cruise liner may have caused the smaller berthing boat to capsize and the men were apparently sucked below water by the current and drowned."

The news account also indicated that "the small boat was capsized when our rear azipods pushed us away from the dock. The two men where thrown overboard and never resurfaced, only one had on a life vest, the other man’s life vest came off when he was thrown into the water. The capsized boat was then pushed into the back of the Silhouette. All of this viewed from my aft balcony, kinda puts a damper on an otherwise wonderful cruise. Very sad for the families of these two men.’" 

CNN iReport posted information (based on the Times Caribbean account) and a local newspaper in St. Kitts, SKNVibes, published an article as well.

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer identified the two men. 

April 5 2014 UpdateLinesman expresses safety concerns following colleague’s death.

If anyone has additional information or photos or video of the incident, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Times Caribbean

Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Failed CDC ScoreAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), another Celebrity Cruises ship flunked a surprise inspection.

The Celebrity Century failed the CDC inspection, receiving a score of only 78.

Last week we reported that another Celebrity cruise ship, the Summit scored, flunked an inspection with a score of only 81. Three other cruise ships received failing scores as well.  So far this year there have been five cruise ships with failing grades. Read our article: Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections.

The most disturbing finding was not just that the Century was dirty with contaminated food debris, but that crew members worked while ill with gastrointestinal sicknesses. Several of the ill ship employees worked in the galleys or interacted with passengers while ill.  The other cruise ships who flunked the inspections earlier this year also had ill crew members who worked with food and around passengers as well.  

These findings are significant because the cruise lines always blame the passengers when there are norovirus outbreaks and accuse the quests of not washing their hands.  The outbreaks may be due to ill employees who may be contaminating the food and infecting passengers.  

Celebrity Cruise Ship - Failed CDC ScoreYou can read the report of the Century here

The report indicates that two cruise ship cook worked while ill before reporting to the ship’s medical infirmary.  A sick hair stylist worked all day around passengers before going to the medical center. And an ill gift shop attendant worked before going to the medical center and continued working after he was suppose to be in isolation.

A particularly disgusting finding was that the toilet intended for galley workers was found locked when the galley was in service, and when the inspectors opened the door, the bathroom had no toilet paper.

And you wonder why there are norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships?

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Photo Credit: Celebrity Century Cruise Ship – Wikipedia / Emesbe

Millinnium Cruise Ship -Sexual Assault Last Friday, I wrote an article about a cruise ship incident where a passenger reported that a Celebrity Cruises crew member “indecently assaulted” her aboard the Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium cruise ship as it sailed from Fiji to New Zealand.

The cruise ship arrived early in the morning on Friday and was scheduled to depart later the afternoon of the same day.

In my article, I mentioned that in our experience, rape cases involving women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the criminal courts.

One of the problems is that crimes on the high seas fall into a jurisdictional “no-man’s land.” The Celebrity cruise ship flies the flag of Malta, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The alleged rape reportedly occurred in the waters of Fiji.  The nationality of the alleged perpetrator and victim are unknown, but they are probably not citizens of New Zealand which was conducting the investigation.

Today, we learn that the local police in New Zealand declined to arrest anyone. A newspaper in New Zealand states that a police detective involved in the investigation cited, as one of other factors, “jurisdiction” as one factor in declining the case for prosecution.  Unless the cruise ship was flagged in New Zealand, or the assailant or victim were a citizen of New Zealand, or the alleged crime occurred in its waters, New Zealand would have no jurisdiction over the incident.

The police detective said that there was “insufficient evidence” for a prosecution which is the usual type of comment we hear in cases like this.  The detective did not cite exactly what other factors may have played a part in declining the case, but he made disturbing comments about making certain that the cruise ship kept its scheduled itinerary.

Recognizing that the the Millennium was due to sail to at 4:15 PM last Friday afternoon, the detective pointed out that the cruise ship sailed on time: “We were aware of those tight time lines and our team got right into it from the first opportunity, and it wasn’t held up at all.”  This is interesting because an earlier account of the story said that the cruise ship captain didn’t notify the local police of the alleged sexual assault until after the cruise ship arrived in port. How do you assemble a forensic team, conduct multiple interviews, administer polygraph tests, look for trace evidence, review video tape surveillance, conduct medical and laboratory tests and get your team off the ship for a timely 4:15 PM departure?

Why should a professional law enforcement care about boat schedules when the vessel contains an alleged crime scene?

One of the criticism of cruise ship crimes investigations is that the investigating law authorities are Jim Walker - Dr. Henry Less - Cruise Crime Scene Investigationdeferential to the cruise ship schedule and rush their investigations. Some suggest that local ports are afraid to jeopardize their relationship with large cruise lines by delaying a cruise ship’s departure from port. Anger a large cruise line and you run the risk that it will drop your port like a hot potato. Unfortunately, crimes on cruise ships literally involve a moving crime scene that is often compromised due to the cruise line’s business interests.

In the infamous case of honeymoon groom George Smith who “disappeared” from the Brilliance of the Seas under disturbing circumstances (we represented his widow in litigation against the cruise line), the local police investigation was so rushed that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship actually left the Turkish port of Kusadasi 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

Later, I hired Dr. Henry Lee who assembled a team of nine forensic investigators, video and photography experts and detectives. When we boarded the cruise ship to inspect the Smith’s cabin and balcony, the cruise line placed us under substantial time pressure not to interrupt the cruise ship’s scheduled itinerary.

 

Photo:

Top: Bay of Plenty Times

Bottom: MSNBC

Tauranga New Zealand - Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship - FijiA New Zealand newspaper reports that the police in the port city of Tauranga are investigating sexual assault allegations made against a crew member of the Millennium cruise ship which docked at the port yesterday morning after sailing from Fiji.

Police state a woman in her late 40’s or early 50’s accuses one of the crew members of the Celebrity Cruises ship of "indecently assaulting her" while the cruise ship was in Fiji waters.

Police state that the passenger alerted the ship’s captain who then informed Tauranga Police once the ship docked at the port in New Zealand.

The newspaper reports that "police are looking into the matter."

Cruise ship rapes are one of the problems which cruise lines try and keep secret.  

A decade ago, we represented a victim of a rape which occurred on this cruise ship. In our experience, the rape of women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the civil courts. Behind the scenes, cruise lines work to defend their employees and build a case against the victims. 

In the civil courts, cruise lines are strictly liable when their employees sexually assault passengers on the high seas.  

November 18, 2012 update: No Surpirse – New Zealand declines to make arrest: "Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault"

 

Photo credit: Sun Live