After nearly nine years, Cruise Law News has a new look.

LexBlog, my blog design and support company in Seattle, re-designed my blog. You will note that the text you are reading is black lettering on a white background, in contrast to the old format (above) with a blue background which people have told me, over the years, was a bit hard on their eyes and difficult to read.

Man Overboard – a Continuing Problem

Early this morning I posted my first article, after two Royal Caribbean crew members went overboard after falling from a lifeboat near Victoria, Canada – Two Crew Members Overboard From Explorer of the Seas, Rescued

It is less than clear how the crew members went overboard, with a news account from a local radio program stating that they were working on the lifeboat, while commentators to my Cruise Law News page on Facebook explaining that the lifeboat apparently flipped over while it was being raised.

Of course, if the crew members fell while performing maintenance then that would be in violation of the cruise line’s safety protocols which require ship employees working “aloft or overboard” to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which sometimes this cruise ignores. On the other hand, if the crew members fell after the lifeboat flipped while being raised, this would be in violation of the international maritime organization (IMO) protocols which prohibit lifeboats from being raised with people aboard, which this cruise lines also often ignores.

Meanwhile, readers of our Facebook page are commenting that “you cannot just fall off of a cruise ship” or words to this effect. But, of course, you can fall overboard if you are a crew member required to work without being provided with a fall restraint harness or forced to sit in a lifeboat which is lifted with people aboard in violation of IMO regulations.

In any event, based on the little available information, fortunately there are no reported injuries due to the mishap.

New Look – New Functions

Returning to our blog’s new format, a new feature is “Report a Tip” which you can see above near the top header. We often receive information directly from crew members or guests from the cruise ships, when things go wrong on the high seas. Cruise lines do not like to release complete or accurate information when bad things happen at sea, like when a fire breaks out or when a person goes overboard.

The motto of this blog remains “Everything Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know.” This form should make it easier to communicate with us.

Since I started this blog in September of 2009, I have written over 3,000  articles.  Thank you to the many hundreds of crew members and cruise guests who have contacted us over the last decade. Most people who contact us wish to remain anonymous.  We of course will never reveal the names or contact information of those who contact us.

The new format includes a link to our Google Analytics information, which tracks where people around the word contact us and how many pages they read. So far today, over 19,000 people have read the article which I posted this morning here on Cruse Law News.

One issue with the new format concerns me, namely our new comment system seems a bit awkward. I am wondering whether it will still work efficiently when readers wish to communicate with us.

I’m interested in what our readers think about the new look and format? Please give us your thoughts!

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Interested in this topic?  Read:

Why do you read Cruise Law News?

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind cruise ship recently failed a sanitation inspection by United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors, in March.

On March 18, 2018, the USPH inspected the Silver Wind in San Juan and found numerous unsanitary violations. Repeated problems were noted in the ship’s potable water treatment. Inspectors located over two dozen flies in the galley, food preparation and dish washing areas. (This seems to be some type of record; it certainly is the most flies I have ever seen recorded in a cruise ship sanitation inspection report).

Inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit.

You can locate the report, read about other unsanitary conditions and the corrective action report by searching for Silver Wind here.

Five years ago, in 2013, Silversea Cruises was caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. CNN aired a special program about the “hide and seek” games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by USPH sanitation inspectors.

Our blog was the first to cover the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors.

Silversea engaged in an intentional, calculated scheme to hide food and galley equipment in the crew cabins. Crew members on the cruise ship alerted our firm that they (galley workers) were being ordered by their supervisors to take trolleys of perishable foods (eggs, fish & cheese) to the crew quarters and hide the food from inspectors during bi-annual CDC inspections. We advised the “whistle-blower” crew members to notify the CDC. As a result of a surprise inspection, the CDC discovered that the cruise line hid “over 15 full trolleys” of food and food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils in “over 10 individual cabins” in order to avoid scrutiny of vessel sanitation inspectors. It flunked the Silversea ship with a score of 82.

You can see photos of the cruise line’s practices on our Facebook page here.

You can watch the CNN video here.

But Silversea didn’t learn its lesson.  In 2015, two years after the disastrous Silver Shadow inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82.

Its current score of 79 is even lower than its failed scores back in 2013 and 2015.  It is only one point higher than the recent failed score of the infamous Kydon ferry, operated by Ferries Del Caribe, which received scores of 78 (May 2018) following even more pitiful scores of 61 (December 2017) and 58 (July 2017). The Silver Wind and the Kydon are the only two cruise ships to have received failing USPH scores so far in 2018.

It should be embarrassing for a high-brow Silversea cruise ship like the Silver Wind to fall into the ranks of an old tub of a ferry like the Kydon.

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

May 15, 2018 Update Silversea issued the following statement today regarding the inspection:

Silver Wind’ March 18 Inspection Report

On March 18, 2018 Silversea’s ‘Silver Wind’ received an atypical score of 79 during an inspection by the US Dept of Health CDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This score compared with the score of 93 out of 100 achieved some 2 months earlier on January 6, 2018, caused the Company to initiate an immediate investigation into the result.

Following the investigation, it was established that a small number of staff had not followed the robust standards expected of Silversea employees. The Company, therefore, undertook a vigorous training and re-training programme related to the relevant issues on-board its cruise vessels which are at the heart of its service to all passengers.

All Silversea ships have comprehensive and rigorous training programs in place to make certain its staff and crew implement best onboard practices. The company has taken measures ensuring that future inspections on this vessel result in higher scores in line with the usual Silversea standards and achieved on all its vessels. The most recent CDC scores on Silversea vessels were Silver Spirit 99, Silver Muse 97, Silver Shadow 95, Silver Explorer 90. Silver Wind has consistently achieved very good scores in all previous inspections.

Photo credit: eGuide Travel – Flickr: Silver Wind, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

Bloomberg Legal reports today that according to data which it collected over the last several years, 83 federal personal injury cases were filed against cruise lines in the first three months of 2018. Bloomberg concludes that this figure continues an upward trend over the last two years in which 188 negligence suits were filed against cruise lines in in 2017 and 164 in 2016. 

Bloomberg also states that "personal injury cases against the three biggest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings – accounted for 78 to 87 percent of all federal litigation they faced over the last five years, according to the data which it collected. 

Bloomberg explains that the lawsuits "often involve slip-and-fall claims, but recent complaints also Miami Cruise Linesallege serious illnesses and injuries worsened by shipboard medical decisions."

The article does not explain that according to the terms and conditions in the passenger contracts, most cruise lines require that all legal claims be filed in the cruise line’s home city, such as Miami for Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. These terms have been held to be binding by the United States Supreme Court in Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991).

Cruise lines based outside of Miami typically require that lawsuit be filed in the location of the city or state where their headquarters are based. For example, Holland America Line requires Seattle, Washington and Princess Cruises requires California.  

Cruise lines now require that lawsuits be filed in federal court, which is typically more conservative than state court. 

Although the article suggests that litigation against cruise lines is on the rise compared to the last two years, the fact of the matter is that lawsuits filed against the cruise industry have dropped off substantially compared to 15 years ago.

For the five year period from 2001 to 2006, there was an average of 423 lawsuits filed a year against cruise lines, according to the Miami Herald article "Law on the High Seas," by Amy Martinez (article at bottom). In contrast, for the last two years (2016-2017), there was an average of only 176 according to the data collected by Bloomberg, which is just 40% of the 2001-2006 average (even though over 50% fewer people were cruising fifteen years ago).

The reason for this decline is that most cruise lines no longer permit crew members to file lawsuits in the  U.S., but instead require the filing of international arbitration where judges and juries are not permitted. 

The only lawsuits which are now permitted to be filed against the cruise industry involve passengers who are injured during cruises.

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

Photo credit: Marc Averette – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 wikipedia

Lawsuits Against Cruise Lines

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. 

Today, Cruise Law News was picked as the number four (out of fifty) top cruise blogs and websites.

To 50 Cruise Blog Feedspot says that it made the selection based on Google search ranking, influence and popularity on Facebook & Twitter, and the quality and consistency of the posts, as well as Feedspot’s editorial review.

The sites ahead of this blog are Cruise Critic, the increasingly popular Cruise Fever and Cruise Industry News. The top four cruise sites have 770,660 Facebook fans: Cruise Critic – 269,322; Cruise Fever – 261,110; Cruise Industry News – 23, 586; and Cruise Law News – 216,642.  

Three years ago, Cruise Critic was also the most popular cruise website in the world; Cruise Fever was number 7 and Cruise Industry News was number 6. 

My favorite cruise-related site is Martin Cox’s Maritime Matters, which is ranked by Feedspot as number 17 out of 50.  

Thanks to Feedspot for the recognition! 

 

 

Cruise Ship - "Ship Life"Over the years, crew members have sent me lots of stories about what it’s really like to work on a cruise ship. Lots of time they send photos and videos of the working conditions they face. 

It’s not the pretty images shown to the guests who occasionally go on behind-the-scene tours. 

"Ship life" is how the crew members describe it.

I have shared some of these photos and videos on this blog from time to time.  

Like when MSC crew members were ordered to throw black plastic garbage bags into the sea at night. Or photos of trolleys of food, hidden from USPH inspectors, in the Silversea crew quarters.

Starting this month, I will begin to regularly post photos and videos sent by crew members to us showing the actual working and living conditions of the crew. The photos and video will be a glimpse into actual "ship life," like the incredible amount of cleaning that needs to be accomplished in the galley after the second seating is over.

The identities of the crew will, of course, remain confidential.  

See the photos here on our Facebook page.

If you are a crew member, feel free to send us your photos and videos.  Please don’t get caught.  The cruise lines will quickly terminate your employment.

This morning Cruise Law News hit a milestone when the 150,000th person "liked" our Facebook page.

The motto of this blog is "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know." Our main goal is to educate the public about dangers on cruise ships and in ports of call that the cruise industry would like to keep secret. It’s exciting to see that many people become a fan of our Facebook page.

Our Facebook page is primarily non-U.S. readers.

Who are the top readers outside of the U.S.? In order they are from India, Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Elvis 50000000 Fans Can't Be WrongIndonesia, Venezuela, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Myanmar, Romania, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, and many other countries. 

Lots of crew members send us information, video and photos of what really happens on cruise ships. (We keep the identity of the crew confidential). We have learned that "ship life" is a lot different from what the cruise lines and travel agents represent. 

The readership of this blog has taken off this year. So far, we have had over 1,000,000 different people who have read over 3,500,000 pages of Cruise Law News, We are on schedule to have over 7,000,000 pages read by over different 2,000,000 people this year.

Why the reference to "150,000 fans can’t be wrong?" It’s a take-off on the famous 1959 Elvis Presley album "50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong." (Yes, I’m one of those fans).

Thanks to everyone who like our Facebook page, read my articles, and leave comments! I’m always pleased to answer any questions from crew members free of charge and without obligation.

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.

Last night I watched Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life. At this point, I think I’ve seen the classic movie at least once a year for the last 50 years. 

I’d like to extend a Merry Christmas and a warm Season’s Greetings from everyone at Cruise Law.

It’s that time of the year to be thankful for your family and friends as we celebrate the Holidays.

Many, many thanks to my friends, foes, clients and family.

Merry Christmas! And don’t forget, Its a Wonderful Life.

Christmas Cruise Law

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

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!