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 »

Articles Posted in Cruise Disappearances

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Sun PrincessJust last week, we discussed a rather disturbing video we saw regarding a Carnival Cruise Line passenger who purposefully jumped overboard from the ship as it approached the port of Grand Turk. We say disturbing because there have been 239 cruise passenger overboard accidents in the past decade alone, and this individual’s choice to jump ship makes a mockery out of those victims’ suffering – along with their families’ suffering. This man is lucky to be alive, as it is a rare few that actually survive falling overboard. We don’t know what got into him. Maybe he thought it was funny? Maybe he just wasn’t thinking? Either way, it was a careless decision – and careless is putting it lightly.

Overboard accidents are no laughing matter. Hundreds of people have lost their lives after falling overboard – and many of these accidents remain unsolved cruise passenger disappearance crimes and mysteries to this date. Purposefully jumping off the ship is an extremely dangerous thing to do. If you feel the urge to jump, jump into the pool on your ship, or jump up and down on your stateroom’s bed. Jumping 60 feet off a ship into waters that you have no idea what’s lurking within is extremely reckless and will most likely result in a fatality.

But while one person is busy poking fun at jumping overboard, the family of one actual overboard victim is now grieving for the loss of their loved one. Our maritime lawyers were saddened to learn that the search for a cruise passenger who fell from a Princess Cruises ship was called off.

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Carnival passenger jumps overboard on purposeYesterday, we discussed a pretty strange, rare, and honestly, rather foolish decision made by a Carnival Cruise Line passenger. The individual decided, whether because he thought it was funny, was intoxicated, or because he did not fully comprehend the gravity of his actions, to purposefully jump overboard into the waters off the coast of Grand Turk.

We cannot stress how dangerous his decision was, as he is lucky to be alive. You already heard what our offshore injury lawyer thought on the matter; now check out what the jumper himself had to say about the incident. His testimony – and a video documenting the entire jump – is available for the whole world to see (and be dumbfounded by).

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Coast Guard helicopterIn our last blog, our firm discussed a tragic accident involving a Carnival Spirit crew member. The victim, who allegedly worked in the ship’s kitchen, was reported missing July 8 after failing to report to his station and was presumed to have fallen overboard. The area where the victim was presumed to have fallen overboard was scoured, but sadly, the search for the missing man was called off the following day.

Carnival alleges the vessel was turned around immediately after a shipboard search did not find the missing man and the appropriate authorities were notified. But is there more to this accident than meets the eye? Did Carnival follow protocol or could something more have been done to try and save the crew member?

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald online site discusses a Carnival Spirit passenger’s testimony that is rather alarming. The passenger, who wished to remain anonymous , told Fairfax Media that an announcement had been made at around 9:30 am on July 8 informing those on board that a crew member had gone missing. However, the passenger claims the ship did not turn around until around 2pm. The passenger also added that it is possible the crew member could have been missing since the previous night, when the ship left Vanuatu.

The passenger’s recount, if accurate, could mean quite a bit for Carnival. For one, it could mean the ship’s operators did not initiate a search as quickly as they should have and if so, may be held liable for the crew member’s death.

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Coast Guard helicopterAs any maritime injury lawyer can tell you, accidents involving cruise ships are more common than anyone can imagine. Several factors can cause an accident, including mechanical failure, captain error, inexperienced crew and overall negligence on a cruise line’s part in maintaining a safe shipboard environment. But while there are many different types of incidents that can transpire on the high seas, a large number are, unfortunately, fatal.

One of the most common types of cruise ship accidents (and also one of the most fatal) is an overboard accident. Since 1995, over 200 overboard accidents have been reported across various cruise lines. Some of these accidents have been caught on a ship’s security footage, while many are not, making it extremely difficult to determine whether the victim went overboard as a result of their own actions, the cruise line’s negligence in maintaining safe conditions on board, or because of another’s criminal actions. Since evidence is not available in all overboard cases, many of the victims’ loved ones are never able to obtain the justice or closure they deserve.

This is incredibly frustrating given the fact that negligence is almost always a factor in these types of accidents. Negligence in the sense that most cruise lines doesn’t have sufficient security cameras throughout a vessel to capture victims going overboard the moment it happens or sufficient security personnel monitoring each deck. Negligence also in the sense that cruise lines have yet to install radar detection technology that will alert crew members when someone has fallen overboard. This technology is especially critical because it can ensure a ship is stopped immediately and that a search for the missing person(s) is initiated right away.

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Coast Guard helicopterOverboard accidents are one of the most common types of accidents onboard cruise ships. Since 1995, a total of 231 overboard accidents have been reported. In the first few months of this year alone, 11 people have been reported missing from cruise ships, some of which were caught on camera falling or jumping overboard, while the circumstances surrounding the other accidents continues to remain a mystery.

Sadly, another overboard accident was recently reported near Florida, and the likelihood of rescuing the victim grows dimmer with each passing day.

According to news reports, the victim was James Miller, 30, of Charleston, South Carolina.  Crew members reported Miller jumped over the railing of the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship, operated by Celebration Cruise Line, while the vessel was en route to its home port in West Palm Beach.

The accident happened around 27 miles east of Delray Beach, which is a relatively short distance to port when considering the likelihood of finding and rescuing the victim.  But while cruise officials argue the Bahamas Celebration crew turned the ship around the moment they realized Miller was missing, by the time they reached the area, Miller was nowhere in sight. Coast Guard members initiated a search for Miller, while the Bahamas Celebration continued along its scheduled itinerary.

Is the cruise ship somehow responsible for this tragedy? According to the family of the missing man, the answer is yes.

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Life saverEvery day this week, our cruise ship accident attorneys have been reporting on several overboard accidents that have taken the lives of several innocent people. Some of these accidents have been captured on the ships’ video surveillance systems, while others we know very little about. What we do know is that so far, one 26-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, one 65-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, and one 34-year-old Princess Cruises crew member have gone overboard. The 26-year-old passenger and the crew member have reportedly jumped from their vessels, but what about the other victim? Why don’t we have any information on his accident or the moments leading up to it?

Aside from these three tragedies, yet another overboard accident has been brought to our attention. An 88-year-old woman allegedly went overboard from the Holland America cruise ship Veendam while the vessel was sailing off the coast of Mexico on Jan. 3.

Passengers on the same itinerary took to social media to voice their concerns, saying that the incident was shrouded in mystery. Some say the woman committed suicide, but no one was sharing information. Others say the crew announced a “man overboard” emergency and ordered travelers to remain in their cabins.

So what exactly happened?

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SOS man overboard rescue missionThe new cruise year hasn’t exactly started off the way our maritime lawyers had hoped. We were hoping that maybe, just maybe, 2014 would be the year where the cruise industry finally takes a stand against accidents and crimes and puts forth maximum effort to protect both passengers and crew members on their ships. Our attorneys were hoping that perhaps, cruise lines would shift a little of their focus on improving safety technology on their vessels in order to prevent tragic accidents and crimes from happening, or at least to drastically reduce their occurrence rate. With so much new and exciting technology that can help increase maritime safety, including infrared detection systems that can play a vital role in rescuing victims who go overboard, we were really thinking cruise lines might make a significant change for the better.

Unfortunately, 2014 hasn’t started out quite as we had hoped. Instead, there have already been several accidents, including more overboard accidents. Two Royal Caribbean passengers have gone missing in the first week of the New Year. We reported on the matter just last week, when we learned that a 26-year-old Canadian man allegedly “jumped” off the Adventurer of the Seas as the vessel was sailing near Puerto Rico, as per the ship’s video surveillance footage. Then, just days later, another Canadian passenger, this time a 65-year-old man sailing onboard the Independence of the Seas, disappeared in the middle of the night. Police suspect this victim “fell” off the ship, but with the abundance of surveillance cameras on this ship as well as the Adventurer, how is it that we have no concrete knowledge of what happened to him?

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Life saverA few days ago, our maritime accident lawyers reported on a tragic overboard accident on a Royal Caribbean Ship. The victim, a 26-year-old Canadian man, allegedly jumped off the Adventurer of the Seas, one of the largest ships in the Royal fleet, while the vessel was approaching the coast of Puerto Rico over the weekend. The ship’s captain immediately notified maritime authorities when word of the accident got out, but the man could not be saved. His body was recovered last Sunday, and the real reason behind this terrible accident appears to have vanished with him.

While overboard accidents happen more often than the public ever gets to know about, just days after this horrible loss, another Royal Caribbean cruise ship passenger fell overboard. Two disappearances in less than a week isn’t exactly the best way for a cruise line to kick off the New Year. What’s going on with Royal?

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Cruise ship We often hear of tragic cruise passenger disappearances here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., many of which are the result, in whole or in part, of the cruise line’s negligence. Failing to ensure guard rails are tall enough, failing to ensure crew members are stationed on deck to protect passengers from harm, and over serving passengers alcohol can all contribute to a dangerous accident like going overboard. Many times, cruise ship disappearances are also the result of foul play. There have been an untold number of victims who got into altercations with other passengers or crew members and subsequently disappeared.

Though over 200 people have gone missing from cruise ships in the last decade, we aren’t any closer to preventing these tragic accidents. This lack of improvement is not for lack of technology, because there are plenty of ways cruise lines can help stop overboard incidents. There is even a new technology that can detect when and where a passenger goes overboard from a ship so a rescue mission can be initiated right away. Perhaps one of the reasons we aren’t seeing a reduction in the number of deaths as a result of overboard incidents is because cruise lines aren’t investing in this and other preventative technology.

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Coast Guard helicopterOur cruise ship lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have reported on several accidents that have occurred both on a ship and in port which have led to serious injuries. Some accidents can’t be avoided, but others are due to sheer negligence. When you have a catastrophic accident, like an overboard accident, the cruise line in question is usually at least partially to blame. Whether it’s because they failed to have crew members on site to prevent the incident in the first place, or whether it’s because they failed to have overboard detection systems in place, in most cases, cruise lines are found to have contributed to the accident. Despite the issue of passenger safety that has been brought up time and time again, cruise lines seem to care more about investing their funds on improving entertainment onboard a ship than to improve safety features. And this week, a tragic overboard accident further demonstrates that the cruise industry is very far from being “safe”.

News sources have reported that a passenger has fallen overboard from a Princess Cruises ship this week. The victim, a female passenger, was last seen around 1 p.m. Wednesday. She was sailing aboard the Grand Princess northeast of Hawaii when the accident occurred. However, after reviewing footage of the incident, cruise officials are saying that the woman “intentionally” went overboard.

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