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 Ship Fires

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cruiseOur firm has learned that a fire broke out onboard the Carnival Valor on Monday while the ship was in St. Thomas. According to the cruise line, the fire broke out in a cabin located on deck 8 and delayed the departure of the vessel.   The guests who were staying in the cabin affected by the fire were relocated and adjacent cabins were aired out.  No one seems to have seen any flames, but many have noted they saw and smelled smoke emanating from the stateroom.

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the ship’s sprinkler system quickly extinguished the fire and that all other features on the vessel are functioning normally. The ship was expected to arrive in Barbados this morning as part of a 7-night sailing. So far, we haven’t heard of any injuries related to the fire and the only damage caused appears to have been isolated to the one cabin.

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Justice ScaleThis week, a compliance notice report regarding February’s Carnival Triumph fire became public news. According to the report, Carnival knew of the dangers of a fire breaking out on the ship and issued a notice to the Triumph recommending spray shields be installed on the vessel’s fuel hoses. Clearly, the Triumph did not comply; but while it seems pretty obvious to the cruise ship accident lawyers at our firm – and to several maritime authorities and Triumph victims – that this oversight played a role in the fire, Carnival (as usual) is denying any wrongdoing.

The fire which disabled the Triumph on February 10, 2013 was significant – not because there were any casualties – but because, as our lawyers have alleged, the accident: 1) could have been completely avoided had the line installed emergency backup generators, 2) the cruise line did apparently did not do enough to ensure passengers were transported to shore as quickly as possible and 3) because those onboard had to suffer through five days of non-working toilets, meager food provisions and hazardous waste and sewage overflowing from deck to deck. Now, with the revelation of Carnival’s knowledge of the possible risk of fire without the spray shields, we can add Carnival’s apparent negligence in maintaining passenger safety by failing to comply with its own recommendations.

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Carnival Triumph compliance reportHere at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we represent a lot of individuals who have been involved in cruise ship accidents. The vast majority of cases stem from some form of negligent action by either the cruise line as a whole or its individual crew members. The most memorable accident by far this year was the Carnival Triumph fire, which left over 4,000 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico amongst dire and unsanitary conditions. We have already voiced our opinion that it was negligent of the cruise line to not have equipped its vessels with emergency backup generators, as well as by failing to ensure a swift evacuation of its passengers to the nearest port (some believe that was Progreso, Mexico), but a new report has revealed an even greater act of carelessness on the line’s part, and it may completely change the way this accident is regarded.

According to a “compliance notice report” sent to the Triumph before it left port on February 7, the vessel had been recommended to install spray shields on the vessel’s fuel hoses. This implies Carnival knew about the risk of a leak from its fuel hoses and recommended taking precautions to avoid an accident.

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Life saver It’s been a while since our firm reported on any major cruise ship fires. This year has been seen more fires than others, starting with the unforgettable Carnival Triumph accident, which left the vessel filled with over 3,000 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. The fire started in the engine room, and wiped out the power on the ship. Luckily, no one sustained injuries, but the victims were all forced to endure horrifically unsanitary conditions until the ship was towed to shore.

Several fires have followed the Triumph accident, and now this week, our maritime attorneys have learned about a serious incident involving a Majestic International vessel. The MV Ocean Countess, formerly the Cunard Countess, caught fire this weekend for unknown reasons near Greece. Ironically, the ship had been in dry doc k for quite some time and was supposed to return to service next year, but it’s highly unlikely that the ship will set sail again anytime soon  – if ever.

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Carnival cruiseThe recent Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph Fire is undoubtedly among the most heavily publicized fires onboard a cruise ship, but as we know full well, it is but one of many maritime fires which have caused tremendous damage to property and life.  At this point, few recall the fire onboard the Carnival Splendor in 2010, but the Coast Guard just brought the issue back to the fore with its findings, roughly three years in the making.

As a general rule, the wheels of justice turn slowly, and it can certainly take a long time for the victims of a cruise ship accident to obtain justice for their hardship, pain and suffering. The many loopholes in a cruise passenger contract, as well as the fact that liners register their ships in foreign ports, can lead an accident investigation to take months or even years to finalize.  Just yesterday, our cruise lawyers reported on the latest fire to rock the cruise industry, the fire onboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, and how officials have yet to discover the real cause.  Nearly two months have elapsed since the fire, and yet, investigations still haven’t come to an end. What’s worse is the fact that Royal’s Vice President for Operations, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, admitted she doesn’t believe we will ever know what caused the Grandeur of the Seas fire – an alarming revelation indeed.

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Container shipIt’s been exactly a year since the MV MSC Flaminia German container ship caught fire, claiming the lives of three crew members and forcing other seafarers and passengers to abandon ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 1,000 miles away from land. Last month, the vessel entered the Port of Constanza in Romania for repairs and further investigation into the accident, but nothing can ever undo the damage caused by the fire to crew members and their loved ones.

Built in 2001, the 984.2-foot, 75,590- GT container ship, owned by Conti Reederei and managed by NSB Niederelbe, was chartered to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for 16 years. The vessel was sailing to Antwerp, Belgium from Charleston, South Carolina on July 14, 2012 when tragedy stuck. At around 5 a.m., a fire broke out in hold 4, causing a massive explosion that forced crew members and passengers to abandon ship.

U.K. Coast Guards received a distress signal and alerted nearby vessels to come to the aid of the MSC Flaminia immediately. The German oil tanker DS Crown was the first vessel to arrive at the scene of the accident. Ship authorities were able to rescue those onboard the MSC Flaminia, 22 seafarers and two passengers, who were fleeing the scene on a lifeboat and life raft.

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Life saver 2It’s been several weeks since the cruise industry was rocked by the year’s second major cruise ship fire on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, but we still don’t have an answer as to what exactly caused it. The fire broke out just before 3 a.m. on Memorial Day Monday, May 27, in a mooring area toward the aft of the ship where tying ropes are stored, then spread to a crew member lounge above. Over 3,000 people were onboard the Grandeur on their way to Coco Cay, Bahamas from Baltimore when the fire occurred. However, quick thinking from the crew and Royal officials prevented anyone from becoming injured or getting stuck at sea.

Officials notified the Coast Guard as soon as the fire broke and the vessel was diverted to Freeport, Bahamas, where an assessment of the damage determined that the ship was no longer safe for travel. Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein and Vice President for Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo flew out to the vessel immediately upon receiving word of the fire and personally apologized to passengers for the accident.

Royal also provided passengers whose cabins were affected by the fire with accommodations at local Freeport hotels until flights were arranged for all guests to return to Baltimore. Passengers were also issued a full refund for the itinerary as well as future cruise credit.

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Life saverFires on ships are one of the most dangerous situations to occur specially at sea when you cannot call the local fire department for help. Unfortunately there are too many fires. Most of them never get reported since they are put out before anything bad happens.

It has only been a month since a fire broke out on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas and four months since the Carnival Triumph fire debacle rocked the nation, but now, another cruise ship fire has called into question the dire lack of safety onboard lines.

This time, the fire ignited onboard Pullmantur Cruises’  Zenith cruise ship. The fire broke out on June 25 just before 4 a.m. in the vessel’s engine room as it was sailing around Italy with over 1,600 passengers and 600 crew members. Although it was put out quickly and no injuries have been reported, the fire knocked out power on the ship, causing it to anchor roughly 17 miles from Venice.

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Sold out cruise itineraryIt’s not that hard to believe that the cruise industry would bounce back since the chain of maritime accidents that have befallen it for the past two years, most notably the Costa Concordia capsizing incident; however, it is pretty shocking that passengers would actually want to go back on the same cruise ships that were home to some of the most heinous conditions ever experienced.  Yet, whether it’s the shock factor or a lack of awareness of what’s happened on these vessels that’s to blame, the cruise industry is still going strong.

In what could be one of the strangest and confusing incidents that have come to pass in the industry, our cruise ship lawyers have come to learn that the highly criticized Carnival Triumph is about to set sail once more – and on a sold out itinerary no less!

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Down stockThe other day our cruise ship lawyers reported on how cruise industry stocks are doing severely underpar from their previous and usual highs pre-Costa Concordia crash and Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire. Carnival reported lower projected earnings for the first quarter, but we had yet to hear from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. on how their revenues will be affected.

Although a recent Harris Poll has shown the nation’s trust in Carnival Cruise has dropped significantly in the months following the Triumph fire debacle that left thousands of people stranded in the ocean amidst unsanitary conditions, but this cruise ship accident also caused other major cruise lines to feel the effects. While not as much as Carnival, the Triumph fire and Carnival’s subsequent seemingly apathetic reaction to passenger plights was enough to lower the opinions of other major cruise lines as well, including Royal and Norwegian.

Now that Royal’s recent fire aboard the Grandeur of the Seas has traveled media outlets across the nation, the line knew it wouldn’t be long before it too would suffer financially. According to the company, the cruise ship fire will cost the line roughly 10 cents per share for the year, leaving the stock at $2.46 per share for the remainder of the year.

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