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 Law

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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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Carnival Cruise Line passenger purposefully jumps overboardOur maritime lawyers have posted a number of blogs regarding the disturbing number of cruise passenger overboard accidents that have taken place over the years. According to the Cruise Junkie website, a total of 239 people have gone overboard in the past 10 years alone, which is extremely tragic. We’ve discussed numerous times how overboard accidents can be reduced, such as by increasing the number of crew members patrolling public areas, hiring trained security guards to monitor suspicious activity in order to prevent foul play, and by cruise lines installing radar detection technology – technology that is currently available – to record the instant someone does go overboard, so a search and rescue can be immediately implemented, instead of waiting hours for the ship to be searched and then trying to determine the last location of the vessel at the point the individual went missing.

Unfortunately, these types of accidents continue to happen, and when they do, there is often some level of blame that can be placed on the actual cruise lines for failing to provide the highest standard of onboard safety possible to both passengers and crew members. This is usually how it goes – usually. However, we’ve recently stumbled upon a video that has literally dropped our jaws.

So what exactly happened? Well, if you ask us, a complete lapse of judgement on the passenger’s part.

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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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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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BelizeThough the threat of Ebola remains unclear on land in the United States, the horrific virus continues to cause problems for the cruise industry. Last week, the industry dealt with a mass panic aboard the Carnival Magic, aka the “Ebola Cruise”, caused by a Dallas hospital lab worker’s less than sound decision to board the ship (carrying over 2,000 people) after potentially being exposed to the virus at her job. (Thankfully, she tested negative for Ebola!) And now, the popular cruise port of Belize is reportedly giving cruise lines a bit of a headache after the island nation has decided to impose new and understandably strict measures for screening cruise passengers for Ebola.

According to an article from 7 News Belize, the nation’s Ministry of Immigration announced it will soon require cruise passengers to undergo screenings for Ebola at the Belize Harbor. However, rumor has it that the two cruise industry tycoons, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have supposedly “threatened to pull scheduled cruises” from Belize as a result. What could possibly be the problem here?

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Ebola_virus_emIt seems like all anyone can talk about these days is Ebola. Sure, we can understand why. I mean, we are in the midst of the largest Ebola outbreak in history. And, there have been a number of Ebola-related cases (one of them fatal) in the United States. Let’s not forget the fact that Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet. Even for the very, very lucky few who recover from Ebola, the virus can still cause lifetime complications with health.

Naturally, it’s safe to say everyone’s pretty shaken up right now and worried about Ebola. The same goes for each maritime attorney at our firm. But while over 5,000 people have already gotten sick (mostly in West Africa), the fear and threat of becoming infected with Ebola is exponentially higher for travelers. There is no world-wide travel ban, which means that an infected person may board a plane, Greyhound bus, or even a cruise ship. Steps are being taken to prevent travel of those who might be infected. Still too early to know if this can help or not.

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Carnival MagicA few days ago, our maritime lawyers reported on the so-called Ebola Cruise, aka, the Carnival Magic. One of the passengers on board had worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas as a lab worker, where a patient died of Ebola, and made the not-so-wise decision to go on a cruise, potentially putting thousands of people at risk for infection.

Well, the ship has now returned to its homeport of Galveston, Texas. According to reports, the passenger eventually tested negative for the virus, but that doesn’t mean that what happened is okay or that something similar won’t happen again. And it sure doesn’t mean we should all just sit back, throw our feet up and call it case closed.

If a health care employee did not have the common sense to steer clear from others, knowing well that she had worked in the hospital where there was, in fact, an Ebola case, who’s to stop others from doing the same? Furthermore, who’s going to ensure cruise lines quarantine passengers (or crew members) displaying symptoms?

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Ebola virusJust last week, we evaluated whether cruise passengers faced the risk of contracting Ebola while on a cruise ship. While it seemed that the risk wasn’t high, we wondered if the cruise lines had a protocol if this were to happen. Or better yet, did they have a protocol to prevent something like this from happening in the first place.  

Now, it is clear that one passenger on board the Carnival Magic may have been in contact with the disease. It was reported that the cruise line offered only $200 to each passenger and a 50% discount in future cruises in compensation to passengers who found themselves on this Ebola-cruise.

For passengers who bought into a week of rest, relaxation, and sunshine, but ended up cowering in fear in their cabins, this just doesn’t seem right.  It was reported that the cruise line also failed to keep the channels of communication open when it came to keeping passengers informed, raising red flags about how cruise lines may handle similar situations in the future. The National Post reported on the debacle, explaining that even when the captain initially publicized the quarantine, he failed to mention that it had anything to do with Ebola.

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Where Jay-Z vacationsThe Caribbean offers a variety of vacation opportunities to cater to every taste. With over 30 islands in the area, you can have a primitive, off-the-beaten-path adventure, relax at an all-inclusive resort, or party all night long with the well-heeled in a salsa club. Just like civilian folk, celebrities’ tastes encompass the whole range of vacation options available in the Caribbean. You can see the rich and famous lounging on fancy beaches, partying at exclusive clubs, or “roughing it” on some of the lesser-developed islands.

Of course, when celebrities travel, many choose to bring along their security personnel to ensure that their vacations are safe and relaxing. For common folk who are injured while vacationing or find themselves in difficult situations, contacting an offshore injury lawyer can mean the difference between having justice served and suffering in silence.

For those of us who want to follow the footsteps of the stars through fine dining and exquisite shopping, St. Barts may be a good choice. The island is a veritable celebrity hive! Jay-Z was caught dining at the Carl Gustaf Hotel. The island was recently featured in a Real Housewives of New York episode. After taking in the white-sand beaches and seeing the glorious sunshine featured in the show, who could say no, to St. Barts?

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