Contributors

Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
Jason R. Margulies
Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Ricardo V. Alsina
Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Michael A. Winkleman
Mr. Winkleman is an active trial and appellate attorney handling all personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims, as well as complex business disputes. Read More »

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Quantum of the SeasRoyal Caribbean has just rolled out with a brand new toy – a rather large toy. It’s got all kinds of high tech gadgets, premium features, and even robots. So what exactly is this seemingly incredible feat of architectural genius? Why, Quantum of the Seas, of course. And this masterpiece of a cruise ship (well, more like a space ship) is looking to take your breath away.

Quantum of the Seas is first of three ships in its class, with Anthem of the Seas slated to set sail next spring, and Ovation scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2016. Like a proud parent, Royal Caribbean boasts that the super vessel is “the most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world.” The cruise company does have a point, though. Among the ship’s numerous innovations is the ability to use mobile devices and tablets. Quantum of the Seas offers a special luggage tagging system that allows guests to track their bags from the moment they drop them off at the pier until their arrival at the guest’s stateroom via their smartphones. Tablets located around the ship offer the added convenience of making dining reservations, spa services, and other activities. But that’s not all, tablets record guests’ preferences from diet restrictions to how someone takes their coffee.

The vessel also boasts the world’s first “skydive” at sea, RipCord by iFLY, aka a glass vertical wind tunnel that offers a skydiving-type of experience and pretty nice views. Our maritime lawyer wrote about another one of Quantum’s nifty features, the world’s first robotic bartenders at sea. At the “Bionic Bar”, thirsty guests can order cocktails prepared by none other than animatronic bartenders. Then there’s the first-ever roller rink and bumper car venue at sea. Sound like fun? You bet. That is, until things start to go wrong.

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NorovirusThere’s a plague in our midst; one that’s been invading cruise ships for years. It’s sly, evasive, and cannot seem to be controlled. This little bug is fast-spreading and potentially life-threatening. Friends, we are talking about Norovirus. That pesky bug that affects hundreds of cruise passengers – and crew members – every year, leaving victims literally sick to their stomachs.

Attention has been mostly focused on the recent Ebola outbreak, but we can’t forget about Norovirus, because like Ebola, it has the potential to be fatal. This virus is basically a form of the stomach flu, with symptoms (including vomiting and diarrhea) lasting about three days. Doesn’t seem too bad at first, but the symptoms can become extremely severe, leading those who become infected with the virus to become quarantined in their room.

Most people who are sick don’t even realize they have the virus until symptoms manifest, but they are still contagious. And even those who do show symptoms don’t usually think much of it, dismissing the entire ordeal as just regular food poisoning or a bad stomach ache. So, these individuals will board a cruise ship not thinking twice about being contagious. They then proceed (inadvertently of course) to spread the virus via contact with inanimate objects that others on board will likely touch as well, including door handles, tabletops, and rails. They might even share food or eating utensils with loved ones. And before you know it, voila, you’ve got a Norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship.

Unfortunately, Norovirus does spread extremely fast – especially because a cruise ship is one giant floating box, filled with confined spaces and corridors and lacking sufficient ventilation outlets. Continue reading →

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boating accidentsOne of the benefits of living in sunny South Florida is the fact that we have great weather all year round (well, mostly). Add dozens of beautiful waterways to the equation and you have the perfect recipe for ideal boating conditions.

On any given day, you’ll find South Florida’s channels inundated with eager boaters enjoying clear skies and warm temperatures. Who’d blame them? We’ve got an array of top boating spots to choose from, including Biscayne Bay, the Miami River, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway – to name a few.

But while South Florida’s waterways do make for amazing recreational boating outings, they can also make for dangerous boating accidents. As any boating accident lawyer at our firm can tell you, all the conditions that make our water channels so appealing also make them prone to hazardous conditions. In fact, according to the US Coast Guard’s 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics, Florida ranked first in the nation, with a total of 685 boating accidents in 2013.

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Cruise ship medical facilitiesSo you’re out and about on the Lido deck, enjoying the warm weather and tropical cocktail. Relaxing and without a care in the world. You know, your typical cruise vacation. But then the unexpected happens. You were too busy contemplating the sparkling ocean that you didn’t notice someone splashed their own little ocean on the deck. So you suffer a nasty tumble and the nice tan you just got is turning all sorts of black and blue shades from the bruises that are now decorating your back, arms, and head. No biggie you think, it’s just a slip and fall…but soon you realize it’s much more than that. When you try to get up, you start to feel dizzy. You’re seeing stars and then before you know it, you’ve blacked out.

Now what?

Are you going to wake up in a hospital? On the ship’s onboard infirmary? What’s going to happen?

Well, you’re unconscious, so you now you’re relying on crew members to make sure you’ll get better. But can you really rely on them? Can you trust that the cruise ship you are on will have the necessary resources to either a) treat your symptoms successfully, or b) rush you to the nearest hospital via medevac? Sadly, there’s no way to know for sure.

You see, cruise ships are known for a lot of things; good food, fancy drinks, and spa services, sure – but top-notch medical facilities is not one of them. Continue reading →

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HandcuffsMost cruise lines cater to families, offering a variety of activities for both minors and adults to enjoy. So, when families decide to embark on a cruise vacation, naturally the last thing on their minds is that something terrible might happen. Unfortunately, there are a range of threats that can face a family on a cruise ship – sexual assault being one of them.

Not many people might believe it, but sexual assault is the number one reported crime on cruise ships. And worst of all, several of the victims are children. Perhaps the most tragic part about sexual assaults on the high seas is the fact that many assailants get away with their crimes. Although they are required to by maritime law, cruise lines don’t always report suspected sexual crimes, or if they do, many times the reporting process is delayed, giving suspects time to disembark the ship before authorities are called to investigate. Victims’ rights aren’t always protected, which is why it is crucial for victims to consult with a cruise ship rape lawyer following an attack on board a vessel.

Sadly, another sexual crime has recently taken place on board a ship. Though any sexual crime that occurs on board a cruise ship is devastating, the particular details of this crime are even more shocking than most because the suspect is an Air National Guard in Kansas. This goes to show that anyone can be sexual predator, so it’s important not to place too much trust in strangers while on a cruise vacation.

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Bahamas Celebration cruise shipLast week, our maritime lawyers spent some time taking about Halloween sailings and all the fun activities cruise lines plan for guests. Some cruise ships allow passengers to dress up in costume, while others have special drinks with a spooky theme to them, and some even allow kids to trick or treat. But, as with any kind of cruise vacation, things can go wrong during a Halloween sailing, which is why we came up with a couple of tips to help those who had Halloween cruises planned remain as safe as possible.

Accidents can happen on the high seas for several reasons; as can crimes. However, guests can do a number of things to reduce their chances of getting hurt, such as limiting alcohol consumption, traveling in groups, and staying away from isolated areas. Yet, unfortunately there are times when bad things happen even when a cruise passenger does all they can to avoid trouble. Though we all expect a little scare here and there on Halloween, one unlucky group of cruise passengers got way more than they bargained for on their holiday sailing.

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onboard a cruise shipGiven the manifold choices available to travelers, first-time cruisers might feel overwhelmed about which cruise line to choose. Choosing a cruise line that matches your personality and vacation desires can sometimes be challenging. With all the options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately each maritime attorney at our firm has taken some time to take into account several cruise lines in terms of their options and safety records to determine which cruise lines offer the best value and safety for first-time cruisers.

First off, understanding what you want in a cruise is very important, especially when the time comes to actually book your cruise. Are you a partier? Do you want to relax by the pool sipping a daiquiri? Do you want to experience the best that every port and destination has to offer? Are you on a budget? Do you want a unique dining experience? These are all questions you should ask yourself. Think about the kind of vacation you want before settling on any cruise package. Cruise companies are willing to discuss your options and find a good cruise match for you.

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Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor

Thinking about cruising to the Bahamas? Well, you might want to rethink that decision after hearing about the latest travel warning that’s been issued.

Any maritime lawyer can tell you that some of the ports cruise lines call on are not what you’d call the model of safety. We’ve often discussed how certain destinations in the Caribbean have been wrought with crime and have posed a danger not only for cruise passengers, but for crew members as well. One of these ports is the Bahamas.

For years, the U.S. government has been trying to alert potential travelers as to the dangers of visiting the Bahamas. Crime has been escalating at an alarming rate, causing some cruise lines, like Carnival, to hand out warning letters to its guests when docking in the island nation. Both cruise lines and the U.S. government have also provided travelers with a list of areas in the Bahamas prone to crime so travelers can steer clear of them, and have advised travelers to remain as close to port as possible. But with every warning there seems to be an equal, if not greater ratio of crimes that continue to occur throughout the Bahamas. Despite all the efforts that have been made on the Bahamian government’s part, such as increasing police forces in Nassau, nothing seems to work. Crime rates are higher than ever, which leads us to wonder: If the Bahamian government is taking the crime problem as seriously as they should?

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Robotic bartenders on Quantum of the SeasWe’ve all seen our fair share of sci-fi movies where some kind of creature or artificially intelligent creature is taking over the planet. Though these flicks can sometimes leave us with the tiniest bit of curiosity over whether any of the extraordinary events detailed on the Big Screen can actually occur in real life, in the end, we know it’s just the magic of the movies taking over our thoughts – or is it?

A recent revelation regarding the cruise industry has left us thinking otherwise. And maybe, just maybe, robots might be staking their claim over humans after all. Well, at least where the cruise industry is concerned.

If you’re the kind of reader that cringes at the idea of mechanical beings roaming amongst the living, then look away. But if you’re brave enough to venture into the future of cruise travel with us, then buckle up, you’re in for quite a ride.

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HalloweenIt’s that time of year again. Time to get dressed up and hunt for candy. Time to enjoy friendly tricks for treats. It’s Halloween and there’s plenty of fun to be had, whether you are young or young at heart.

Some of us will be spending the holiday with our kids while some of us may decide to attend a ghoulish party or two. And then there are those of us who will be celebrating Halloween aboard a cruise ship. And, for those of us who have elected to spend the holiday on a ship, you’re in for quite the thrill. Since Halloween happened to fall on a Friday, there are several three and four day cruise sailings that are going to feature special activities for guests, anywhere from costume contests to specialty drinks to pumpkin carving. Many ships even offer trick or treating opportunities for kids. But while it can be easy to get lost in the excitement of the costumes and games, it’s important to remember that Halloween can also be a very dangerous holiday.

Accidents and crimes at sea can take place at any time, but on a day like Halloween, there’s a much greater chance that cruise ship guests can get hurt. Between the large number of people that will be on board a ship this weekend having a good time, the costumes that can cause perpetrators to more easily get away with committing a crime like sexual assault, and the fact that many adult passengers will be drinking (many to an excess), trouble is a lot more likely to strike on a Halloween cruise. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your chances of getting hurt or becoming the target of a crime. Our maritime lawyers have a few tips that will help you stay as safe as possible.

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