Jim Walker Cruise Law NewsToday, the Cruise Law News Facebook page reached 200,000 "likes."

The majority of our Facebook fans are crew members who use Facebook on a regular basis to communicate with their family and friends. 

We receive a great deal of information from crew members regarding a wide range of issues, like cruise ship fires, engine failures, man-overboard situations and the tough working conditions which crew members face.

We also receive information from cruise passengers when things go wrong on the high seas. 

Thank you very much for reading our page and providing information to us!  Our Facebook page would not be possible without the support of crew members and passengers on cruise ships around the world!

The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know."

No, we are not a travel site with glossy photos of happy crew members and smiling passengers enjoying a dream vacation cruise. The fact that millions of people are reading a critical blog by a lawyer (lawyers often write boring, stuffy articles) reflects that there are a lot of things that happen on cruises which the public wants to know and the cruise lines want to keep secret.

Thanks for reading us! And a special thanks to the many people who have sent us tips, photos and videos. 

Carnival Cruise Miami LawyerToday I was excited to read that Cruise Law News has been picked as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014" by the premier law publication Above the Law.

Admittedly, we were the twelfth and last pick, but beggars can’t be choosers. Here the write up:

No attorney’s passion shows through more than that of Jim Walker. Not only is Walker an advocate for cruise passengers, but a fervent watchdog for the industry as a whole. His 2014 included, among a multitude of accomplishments, traveling to Washington, D.C., to back Senator Rockefeller’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act and forcing government officials in the Bahamas to answer to their ranking on hitting the Top 10 worst destinations. If you’re planning to take a cruise in 2015, this is a blog you cannot miss.

Here are the other selections: The Art Law ReportTrademarkologyInside PrivacyCanna Law BlogEnergy and the LawThe D & O DiaryAll About Advertising LawBeLabor The PointAuto Industry Law Blog, Retail Law Advisor, and Cady Bar the Door.

 

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!

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.

This month marks the three year anniversary of my blog, Cruise Law News ("CLN").

I started this blog in September 2009 with the goal of writing about "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know." There has been a lot to write about.

Shipboard rapes. Molestation of children. Mistreatment of foreign crew members. Overboard passengers and crew. Cruise line cover-ups. You can read it all here.

Three years later, CLN has now published over 1,100 articles and received over 3,200 comments from our readers. The CLN Twitter feed has over 10,000 followers, plus those who subscribe to the blog via email, RSS feed, or Google reader.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about CLN lately is the explosion of our readership on our Facebook page. Over 18,500 people have "liked" CLN’s Facebook and are spreading the word.

All of the drama following the Costa Concordia disaster has driven our readership up considerably. So far this year, 724,328 people have read 2,575,675 pages of Cruise Law News.

Being popular is nice, but being influential in shaping cruise news is where the real satisfaction comes Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship Crimefrom. The national and international press have carried our message to the public  You can read about the over 35 major newspapers, television and documentaries which have mentioned our firm and/or cited our blog this year, below.

Just this this week Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel quoted CLN in an article about the latest passenger overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. While Royal Caribbean was boasting that it "immediately" notified the Coast Guard, we pointed out that in truth the cruise line waited over 2 hours to do so.  A few days later we were the first in the U.S. to report on a crew member who disappeared from another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas

The Concordia fallout led to two Congressional hearings this year which we attended and blogged from Washington D.C. about the cruise industry’s strategy to bamboozle the public about the safety of cruising. (Photo above right, with members of the International Cruise Victims’ organization).     

Chris Owens, a popular cruise blogger who writes for Gadling, characterized our blog as follows:

"Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News adds a sobering tone to what can be an industry that sometimes gets a bit wrapped up in itself, asking and answering tough questions about current maritime matters. First on the doorstep of cruise lines when things go wrong, Walker also does not hesitate to jump into the conversation when passengers have unreasonable demands."

This year we have been very vocal about the sad state of affairs of the cruise industry post Costa Concordia, as well as the plight of families of missing loved ones on cruise ships.  Below is a video from Australia’s Dateline regarding the disturbing disappearance of Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder.  This is a case where, in my opinion, the Bahamian police and the Disney corporation have stonewalled the grieving family at every turn.  

A heartfelt thanks to the readers of this blog. Many thanks to those I don’t know but who send me anonymous tips about things that the cruise lines are trying to cover up.  

Finally, thanks to everyone who helps me write about "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know."    

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=bLgc1dqhCsQ%3Frel%3D0

 

In this year (2012) alone, CLN and our clients have been featured on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer & Erin Burnett, Wall street Journal’s "Cruise Safety, a Century After Titanic," Australian Sun Herald’s "Boozy Cruises a Recipe For Disaster Expert Warns," Travel Agent Central’s "Lawsuits Target Carnival in the U.S. But Will They Succeed?," Examiner’s "Costa Favolosa Dancer From South Africa Lost At Sea," USA TODAY’s  "Stats Don’t Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime," ABC News’ "Vacation Danger: Is Cruise Ship Liable for Perils on Shore Excursions?," Virgin Islands Daily News’ "Court Rules Lawsuit Over Slain Teen Tourist Should Be Heard," Washington Post’s "Dumped in the Caribbean," Newsweek’s "The Hidden Horrors of Cruise Ships," CNN’s "Cruise Victims Get Minimum Compensation," CNN’s "Cruise to Disaster," Daily Business Review’s "Lawyer Wins $1.25 Million in Arbitration For Employee Injured Aboard Cruise Ship," South Florida Business Journal’s Is Salon Article A Smoking Gun On Cruise Line Crime Stats?, Greenwich Magazine’s "Who Killed George Smith?," PBS / NOVA Cruise Special: "Why Ships Sink," Houston Chronicle’s "Court Leaves Galveston Cruise Ship Departure Uncertain Until Last Minute," Date Line’s "Lost at Sea," Herald Sun’s "Cruise Ships Perfect Ground for Predators," 20/20 "Costa Concordia Crash," CNBC’s "Travel: Do You Need Medical Evacuation Insurance?," CTV / Canadian Television’s "Crime, Fires Compromise Cruise Ship Safety: Experts," International Herald Tribune / New York Times’ "Disaster Cripples Cruiser, Not Cruising," Washington Post’s "Costa Concordia Sinking Leaves Other Cruise Ship Passengers Alarmed — And Out Of Luck," Cleveland Plain Dealer’s "Cruise Ship Accident Prompts Questions About Industry Safety," Examiner"s Passengers Blame Carnival Corporation for Costa Concordia Wreck," Washington Post’s "The Ship Sailed, But They Didn’t;" and Barbados Free Press’ Cruise Ship Horror Stories Good for Island Tourism?

Walker & O’Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many high profile cases involving cruise ship fires, sexual assaults against women and children, and disappearances of passengers and crew around the world. We routinely represent passengers across the United States in serious injury cases, against Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

Jim Walker and Lisa O’Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago.  Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983.  Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

In the last couple months alone, the firm has appeared on numerous international television program and Walker and O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise Law Miami Floirda cruise documentaries.  Jim was featured on ABC’s 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia’s Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Last month, Jim was featured on PBS’s documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic’s sinking in 1912 to the current date.  Here are what people are saying about Jim: 

"Top Maritime Lawyer" – ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" – USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" – Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" – Law.com (America Law Media)

In addition to a full time trial practice against cruise lines, the firm publishes this cruise law blog, which is the most popular maritime law and personal injury blog in the world (per AVVO / Alexa rankings). Cruise Law News ("Everything the Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know") has been described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami’s Daily Business Review.  

If you or your family suffered a serious injury during a cruise, don’t hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis.  Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.  

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com   

After publishing Cruise Law News for the past two and one-half years, I decided to create a second blog: "Maritime Lawyer."   It will cover maritime issues and events which don’t involve cruise ships.  I registered MaritimeLawyer.com long, long ago and will be using that domain for the new blog.

My friends at LexBlog are going to create and host the new blog. The LexBlog people created this blog. It has been far more successful and influential than I ever dreamed possible.  Per Alexa, Cruise Law News (CLN) is ranked number 12 in the U.S. / Canada in terms of popularity of law blogs. There is only one other law blog published by a practicing lawyer (another LexBlog client, China Law Blog) ahead of CLN in terms of popularity (for what that’s worth).

Maritime Disasters: Cruise Ship Fires, Crashes, Collisions, CapsizingsThis year alone, CLN has been cited by a diverse group of media organizations, from tabloid bloggers like Perez Hilton to serious journalists like the reporters at the Wall Street Journal, PBS and Newsweek.  CLN has led me to appearing on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett, ABC’s 20/20, NOVA, BBC Radio and Australia’s Dateline in just the last three months.  Our articles range from serious investigations into news the cruise line don’t want you to know, to mundane legal issues about cruise law, to the bizarre, odd & weird things that happen on cruise ships.

My new blog will take a look into the larger world of maritime law of which cruise law is a small part.  If the story involves a cruise ship, you will find it on CLN.  But if a tugboat, tanker, trawler, bulk carrier, sailboat, yacht or fishing boat is involved, Maritime Lawyer will cover the story. 

I will be also posting my maritime articles on a new Maritime Lawyer facebook page.  This will be the first article posted on that new page.  I have 6 "likes" so far on the facebook page; pretty pitiful. Drop by, "like" us, and post a comment.

Let us know what type of maritime stories you want us to cover . . . .

Thanks!    

Things are suppose to slow down in the summer, but there are no signs of that yet.

Royal Caribbean recenty tried to muzzle a Miami lawyer who issued a press release about a cruise line case scheduled for trial in November.  Gagging lawyers from talking to the pubic requires introducing substantial evidence establishing that the parties will not receive a fair trial.  The risk of trying to quiet a critic runs the risk of looking like a bully.  Not a smart move.  The attack on the lawyer and his disabled client just focused the public’s attention on the cruise line’s strong arm tactics.   

Whenever I see Royal Caribbean try and muzzle the press, I think back to 2005 and 2006 when this Richard Fain - Royal Caribbean CEO  cruise line embarked on a media campaign following the disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise.   We represented Mr. Smith’s wife, Jennifer Hagel.  Royal Caribbean sent its CEO Richard Fain (photo left) and high profile media lawyer Lanny Davis (photo below right) onto the cable news shows to influence public opinion.   

Why should any local Miami lawyer be muzzled when this cruise line sends its CEO and high profile lawyers from Washington D.C. onto TV programs to discuss legal controversies?   

Speaking of RCCL, the Oasis of the Seas intercepted 7 Cuban rafters, who are back in Cuba after the cruise line turned them over to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Very strange that a company incorporated in Liberia which flies the flag of the Bahamas is acting like a branch of the U.S. Coast Guard responsible for sending rafters back to Cuba. This is the fourth time a Royal Caribbean cruise ship "rescued" Cubans fleeing to the U.S. in the last 6 months.

You can read about the cases here, here, here and here.   

Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess has been in the news, too.  There have been reports of norovirus on the cruise ship during the last four cruises. The cruise line has again blamed the passengers for bringing the virus aboard and then spreading it around.  The Centers for Disease control state that the most likely cause of norovirus in most cases is contaminated food or water, but cruise lines like Princess always blame the passengers.  Those dirty passengers, if they would only wash their hands.  Since when did cruise PR representatives rather than epidemiologists determine the cause of viral outbreaks?     

Speaking of dirty, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 failed a surprise sanitation inspection conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.  The CDC found the luxury liner to have "extremely dirty" water and tile in a pool, human hair in an ice machine, and chemicals stored near napkins, paper cups and utensils.  The CDC report used the word "filthy" five times.  Oh, that filthy Mary!

The Carnival Glory, meanwhile today scored her second perfect sanitation score  –  a 100.  This Cruise Line PR - Lanny Davis time it was issued by Canadian authorities; the week before it was by the CDC.  

Cruise ships are getting bad press in Venice.  An Italian preservation society has announced that Venice faces an “irreversible environmental catastrophe" unless visitor numbers are capped and cruise ships are restricted.  The Telegraph newspaper in London published a provocative article entitled "Venice Risks Losing its Soul Due to Mass Tourism.’   In May, we discussed the effect of the cruise industry on Venice in our article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Our blog Cruise Law News is number 16 in the top law blogs per the AVVO / Alexa ranking system.  Not bad, but a disappointment to slip out of the top ten. 

Today the Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica, where we advertise, interviewed us about the services we provide for crewmembers who are injured on cruise ships.  Cruise Law News was cited in an interesting article in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper yesterday entitled "Thawing Arctic Opens Up New Shipping Routes on the Roof of the World."   The article discussed our coverage of the Clipper Adventurer striking an uncharted "underwater cliff" off the waters of Nunavut in northern Canada.

Do you have a cruise line issue you are interested in discussing?  Leave us a comment or contact us at jim@cruiselaw.com.  

Cruise law News - CLN - Jim Walker LawyerThe month of November ended with a bang.  Readers of Cruise Law News (CLN) viewed over 68,000 pages of our blog in November alone, roughly three and one-half times the total population of my home town in Arkansas.  When I first started this blog a year ago, I barely had 5,000 pages readers a month.  Since then, our readership has exploded.  We have thousands of subscribers to our bog everyday, via RSS feed and email, and tens of thousands of regular readers. 

CLN reached two milestones this past month. One was reaching the top 10 most popular law blogs based on quantifiable criteria.   

The second milestone was being included in the Top 25 Cruise Vacation Influencers.  This is a ranking of websites and blogs which are considered "influential" in the world of cruising, again Cruise Law News - CLN - Jim Walker Blogbased on certain objective metrics.  CLN is currently no. 11, ahead of Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines and P & O Cruises.  The interesting thing about this list is that it primarily consists of cruise lines like Carnival (no. 1), Royal Caribbean (no. 5) and NCL (no. 10) or travel agents like CruiseBuzz (no. 2) or BuyCruises (no. 3). 

Being the only true cruise critic in the top 25 reflects that the public is interested in information other than the propaganda spoon fed by the cruise lines.  We have many readers who are cruise line employees and crew members on ships who contact us regularly about problems they encounter and think should be made public.  Passenger and crew member safety and shipboard working conditions are issues of particular interest to our readers.  

The cruise industry may not agree with much of what we publish, but  the cruise Cruise Law News - CLN - Cruise Law Bloglines read CLN on a daily basis.  When a passenger or crew member "disappears" or there is suspicious circumstances surrounding a death, they know that we will cover the story and provide a forum for passengers and crew to leave comments about what really happened.  

If you are a regular reader of CLN or have left a comment on our blog over the past year, thanks!   We need your input to be able to continue to provide a glimpse into what the cruise lines don’t want the public to know. 

I just had my first podcast which is featured on Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs

The podcast was an interview of me by LexBlog’s Colin O’Keefe entitled: Talk of the LexBlog Network : Jim Walker of Cruise Law News  Go to the link and then click on the play button if you want to hear me ramble on about blogging and cruise ship issues (Colin O"Keefe had to turn on the music to stop me talking . . . )

Here is the intro to the podcast by LexBlog:

"Plain and simple, Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News is one of the best law blogs out there, along with being one of my favorites on the LexBlog Network.  Not only does Jim produce content at an incredible rate—356 posts in the 365 days after launching—but it’s content that doesn’t tiptoe around sensitive subjects.  In Jim’s words, he set out to "talk straight about issues which make the cruise industry uncomfortable."  And what has this done? Just place him amongst the most popular law blogs in the United States. 

On this podcast we discuss how he developed this unique approach, setting aside time to blog, finding topics to blog about and how the coverage found on his blog compares to what’s put forth by the mainstream media."

You can listen to the podcast here

 

Thanks to the O’Keefes for my first podcast and helping me with my blog for the past year!