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?

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

Jim Walker Cruise Law Sexual AssaultLast night, NBC Nightly News aired part 2 of its investigation into sexual assaults on cruise ships.

NBC interviewed me during the investigation. We have handled over 100 cases of sexual assault; approximately one third of the victims have been children. This is essentially the assault rate of minors that experts testified to during prior Congressional hearings.  

The common comment we hear is that parents need to supervise their children while on cruises. This may be true, but sexual assaults can take place even when the most attentive parents are involved. Children have been assaulted during cruises in shipboard childcare facilities as well as in their cabins by cabin attendants who meet the children and their family members during the cruise.

Another common scenario is older passengers who have access to alcohol and target underage girls during the cruise.

When an assault occurs, the FBI routinely does not follow up with their initial investigation and interview of the victim. Prosecutions of shipboard predators by the U.S. Department of Justice are rare.   

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

Photo credit: NBC Nightly News  

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, Miami lawyers filed suit on behalf of a cruise passenger who sailed aboard the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas on Sunday, February 7th. The Lipcon law firm, based here in Miami, has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Royal Caribbean in Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Anyone who has read this blog in the last two weeks knows how I feel about the cruise in question. There is little doubt that the cruise line acted recklessly by ignoring weather forecasts of hurricane strength winds and 30 foot waves of this Altantic winter storm.  The winds strengthened, as to be expected in a storm like this, to well over 100 MPH. Many passengers experienced Anthem of the Seas Storm Lawsuitterrifying experiences where some passengers were fearful of losing their lives and those of their loved ones on the cruise ship.

The Anthem of the Seas returned to New Jersey with severe damage to its propulsion system, among other damage.

The captain of the Anthem of the Seas said during a talk to the passengers after the storm that he expected waves of only 12 to 15 foot waves.  But weather forecasts indicate that much higher waves, to over 30 feet, were expected. This means that the cruise line did not provide accurate weather reports to the captain or he ignored them. Navigation officers are required to up load “passage plans” pursuant to the the International Safety Management (ISM) codes before they sail. This information will quickly reveal exactly what weather conditions the captain anticipated during the ill-fated cruise in question.

ABC reports that any passenger who was on the ship can be represented in the lawsuit, which covers both passengers who suffered physical injuries and those passengers who are alleging only severe emotional, psychological and emotional stress.

You can read the lawsuit papers here.

At least one other lawsuit was filed last week by a lawyer in Houston, Texas.

Our firm will be representing passengers who sustained physical injuries during the storm.

Cruise lines ordinarily have a duty of only “reasonable care” under the circumstances. But in instances of rough weather, cruise lines have a much higher duty of care toward the passengers. Some characterize this duty as the “highest duty of care” of the passengers when the ship is expected to encounter rough weather.

Can it seriously be argued that Royal Caribbean exercised “high care” when it sailed 4,500 passengers, including the elderly and children, into a winter storm forecast to bash the ship with hurricane strength winds and waves over 30 feet?

Read our last article on the Anthem of the Seas fiasco.

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,

Jim Walker Cruise LawyerCrime Watch Daily is a new program which focuses on stories of crime in the daily life of average Americans. 

It just published it’s first show regarding crime on cruise ships.

Today it aired Cruise Ship Crime: Hard to Prosecute, Convict about the difficulties prosecuting crimes on the high seas.

Laurie Dishman, a friend and former client, talks about being sexually assaulted during a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Former Disney Cruise security officer Dawn Taplin talks about being told by her supervisors not to call U.S. authorities when a Disney crew member molested an 11 year old girl while the Disney Dream was still docked in a Florida port. The Disney cruise ship then sailed on to the Bahamas where it flew it’s crew member back home to escape prosecution.  

Photo: Crime Watch Daily

 

//widgets.crimewatchdaily.com/videos/0_9tgo7w2w/

 

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.

Cruise Law TwitterIt’s been six years since I joined Twitter. Long ago, I wrote an article about how it came to be that I joined what at the time seemed like little more than a fad. Cruise Law Meets Twitter.

Twitter is now clearly a monster in the world of social media with a value in the billions of dollars. My partner mentioned that she is about to buy Twitter stock. There are rumors that Google may buy it.

I learned that if you are looking for breaking news, Twitter will beat the cable news every time. Regarding cruise news, I will often first hear about a ship fire or an overboard passenger on Twitter, often while the cruise ship is still at sea.

In June 2009, shortly after I joined Twitter, I learned how valuable Twitter is to reporting cruise ships news that the cruise lines try and keep secret. The engine room of Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess caught fire during a Mediterranean cruise near Egypt. Princess initially didn’t release any information to the public. But a passenger, a Pastor from South Carolina, Greg Surratt, tweeted on his Cruise Law TwitterTwitter account @GregSurratt about the fire from his iPhone on the cruise ship. 

Reverend Surratt tweeted that the fire had disabled the cruise ship and a tug had to tow the ship back to port. Frantic families in the U.S. had to rely on Pastor Surratt for information about their loved ones. He even tweeted photos of the fire and the passengers sprawling out on the deck in the dark (right).

When Princess finally posted its typical less-than-forthcoming corporate press statement, no one was paying attention to the cruise line. Everyone was listening to Pastor Surratt tweeting away on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean. 

I first learned of other cruise disasters (Costa Concordia, Carnival Triumph, etc.) on Twitter. 

I have over 12,000 Twitter followers. I tweeted over 15,000 times over the course of 6 years. That’s an average of over 2,500 a year.

What was my first tweet?  I forgot. So I looked it up on an App which tells you. Mine was on March 12, 2009: Princess Crew Member Sexually Assaults Passenger

Are you on Twitter? You should be. Follow the #cruise hashtag. And don’t forget to follow me at @CruiseLaw.    

 

People complain that I write only negative stories about the cruise lines. Crime, fires, overboard passengers, greedy cruise executives, mistreatment of crew members, blah, blah, blah, does it ever end they ask?

It’s a good question, I suppose. Lots of things go wrong during cruises. I have an endless source of materials for stories to fill this blog. But maybe that’s no reason to fixate on the bad part of cruising, is it? Maybe I should stop writing so many mean stories about unpleasant subjects. Perhaps I should write nice things about the cruise lines Jim walker Cruise Law Newsand its executives to make people happy.

But I have a question to ask you: why are you reading Cruise Law News right now?

Are you looking for an article comparing the food and service on the Oasis of the Seas to the Norwegian Epic? Or are you trying to find out whether Nassau or Roatan is a more enjoyable port to visit and take your kids? Of course not. Cruise Critic or Travel Weekly or most any other cruise or travel publication have that covered.

I suspect that you are visiting this blog because you’d like to find out the news that the cruise lines don’t want you to know. Yes, the bad news.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a short article about a passenger who fell to his death on the Carnival Magic. There was no mention of the incident anywhere. Not on television, not in newspapers, not anywhere throughout the internet. I wrote the article because a half-dozen cruise passenger contacted me asking if I knew what happened on the ship.

Over 50,000 people read the article on this blog and our Facebook page over the first couple of days it was published. Over 1,500 readers liked, shared, tweeted or re-tweeted the story. Another 500 people liked, shared or commented on the article on Facebook. That’s a lot of people interacting with the story (a popular Yahoo article may have only a dozen or two likes and a handful of comments). The victim’s family and friends read the article and left comments trying to find information about what happened to their loved one.

Cruise lines and FBI often erect walls of silence and lack of cooperation when someone dies or disappears from a cruise ship. The public is hungry to find the truth of what happens at sea. Regular cruisers or travel agents want to inform their family or clients of what they learn on this blog. Families of those lost at sea want to know everything that they can why their loved one perished. The cruise line won’t tell them. There’s really no other reason people read our articles. 

Compare the public reaction to that tragic story to the reaction to another article I wrote about Carnival yesterday. The story was entirely complementary about its new CEO, Arnold Donald, whose rose from a modest beginning in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to a highly successful businessman.

I admire the way that Mr. Donald earned great financial success through the hard work instilled in him by his family and educators. He never forgot his family or his humble beginnings. Every year, he and his wife award scholarships to students from his high school in New Orleans to his college and business school alma maters. He named the new wing of the high school building, which he funded, after his late mom and dad.

But no one cared about the story. It received zero likes, zero tweets and zero shares. I doubt 500 people read it.

People read Cruise Law News because they are looking for answers to the questions that the cruise industry won’t answer. Even cruise fans know that the cruise lines are less than transparent and will try and hide the bad news. So if you want a happy-go-lucky story about dream cruises and fun family vacations, you won’t find it here.   

Why do you read Cruise Law News? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.