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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Seven Seas Mariner, RegentIn Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, the keel was laid for what is touted to be the most luxurious cruise ship in history. The 750-passenger Regent ship will be an all-suite luxury vessel unlike anything that has come before.

The keel laying ceremony was the epitome of opulence. Master sommelier, Michela Cimatoribus popped the cork on a magnum bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée, which triggered a laser, which then cut the first piece of steel for the Seven Seas Explorer ship. During the ceremony, a Rolls Royce Phantom also delivered three symbolic coins to commemorate the commencement of construction. The coins were welded into the construction of the vessel. The archbishop of Genoa also blessed the metal.

The ship will offer passengers more space and privacy than any other ship before it. Additionally, its Regent Suite is billed to be the most opulent suite on board a cruise ship. At 3,875 square feet, its master bedroom features a wall of windows overlooking the ocean, and a private onsite spa. The room will reportedly cost passengers $65,000.

But perhaps the best news our maritime attorneys have heard about the ship thus far is the fact that it will employ cutting-edge environmental protection measures. Just the other day, we talked about how several major cruise lines are avoiding environmental safety protocols and polluting marine habitats and the air with harmful substances, chemicals, and wastewater.

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Elderly Woman Lives Aboard Crystal SerenityCruise vacations can bring wonderful memories when cruise lines take proper safety precautions and when nothing goes wrong—but one woman took her love of cruise vacations to the next level.

Lee Wachtstetter is an 86-year-old widow who has been living on a cruise ship for the last seven years. Her rent comes out to about $164,000 per year, after tips, drinks, and the cost of each cruise – a pretty hefty price, but she doesn’t seem to mind. After her husband passed away, Wachtstetter sold her estate in Fort Lauderdale and decided to become a permanent resident on a cruise ship, at the suggestion of her daughter.

It was actually Wachtstetter’s husband who introduced her to cruising. During their fifty years of marriage, they took 89 cruises together. The day before her husband passed away from cancer in 1997, he asked her to not stop cruising and Wachtstetter honored his request. Since his passing, Wachtstetter has taken over a hundred cruises and says that she stopped counting countries she’s visited once the tally reached 100.

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cruise ship, cruise ship lawyer, cruise pollutionCruise ships have long been known to be major air and water polluters. One New York Times correspondent recently wrote a column about the problem, citing lack of proper regulation as the main contributing factor to both accidents and pollution on the high seas.

According to The Guardian, the cruise industry burns millions of tons of fuel, and produces over a billion tons of sewage. Exhaust and sewage must be treated or it can fog the air and pollute the water. Some cruise destination countries like Belize are so concerned, that they’ve limited cruise ships to only one area of the beach in order to prevent pollution of more pristine areas. These beaches are often “sacrificed” to allow for cruise tourism to continue. Other countries want to prevent cruise travel from reaching their shores entirely. In fact, cruise ships that use large amounts of fuel are currently banned from traveling to Antarctica because an oil spill there would be disastrous to the environment.

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4-year-old boy nearly drowns in Oasis of the Seas cruise ship wave poolIn our last blog, our maritime attorneys discussed the concerns that have been raised over cruise ship safety protocols and the lack of trained lifeguards on the majority of ships following the near-drowning of a 4-year-old boy on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. The accident occurred in the ship’s wave pool, where there were no lifeguards stationed to monitor guests. The boy was submerged for roughly six minutes, and pulled from the water by a fellow passenger. He is currently in critical condition.

But while this accident is tragic, it is not the first near-drowning or drowning accident to befall the cruise industry. Several other young children have suffered similar accidents, but cruise lines have yet to employ lifeguards. Wave pools themselves are extremely dangerous and difficult to monitor, even when a lifeguard is present. The crowds, the fact that people will drift under the water as the waves pass, and the motion of the water itself can create difficulty in surveillance – even for a trained professional. The fact that cruise lines have these kinds of pools on board without any lifeguard at all is a disaster waiting to happen, as the accident involving the four-year old this weekend proves.

Cruise lines claim that patrons are warned to swim at their own risk and parents are asked to watch their children. But in wave pools, where even a professionally trained lifeguard on duty would have trouble keeping everyone safe, how can parents be expected to watch all their children in a roiling mess of water and crowds without professional assistance? Moreover, the fact that drowning accidents can happen even to adults further highlights the dire need for all cruise ships to employ trained lifeguards. The 2013 drowning of 1985 MOVE Bombing survivor, Michael Ward (nicknamed Birdie Africa), in a Disney cruise ship hot tub is a prime example.

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Royal Caribbean Flowrider - Surf Simulator Wave Pool

Royal Caribbean Flowrider – Surf Simulator Wave Pool

In our last post, our maritime lawyers discussed a four-year-old boy’s near fatal drowning on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship. As details emerge about the accident, concerns have begun to arise regarding the overall safety of cruise ships (or lack thereof), and the cruise industry’s failure to employ life guards to be stationed near onboard pool and Jacuzzi facilities. In particular, the incident raises questions about the safety of wave pools, where the tragic near-drowning accident took place.

The Sun Sentinel reports that the boy had been swept under a wave and was submerged for about six minutes before another guest noticed what had transpired. Six minutes is an extremely lengthy amount of time to be submerged, and can lead to severe consequences – if not death. Without oxygen, the brain begins to die. The brain is the human body’s largest consumer of oxygen, requiring 20% of the body’s overall oxygen intake. After 4 to 6 minutes of being deprived of oxygen, the brain’s cells start to fail.

The boy had no pulse when he was pulled from the water. Though CPR was performed and the boy was revived, he may have already suffered permanent brain damage or a number of other complications, including lung and esophageal damage. The boy is currently in critical condition at Broward Health Medical Center.

Though wave pools may be a lot of fun, in reality, they can be extremely dangerous, especially for young children. Continue reading →

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4-year-old boy nearly drowns in Oasis of the Seas cruise ship wave poolIt was just a few days ago that our maritime lawyers discussed the risks of drowning and secondary drowning while engaging in any water-related activity, especially while on a cruise vacation. Aside from a few exceptions, like Disney Cruise Lines, the majority of cruise lines do not employ trained lifeguards, which means ship pools are not monitored by trained professionals. In fact, pools are seldom actually monitored by any cruise ship crew member. This means that on any given day, on any given ship, the dozens of people enjoying pool and Jacuzzi facilities may suffer a near-drowning or drowning accident and may not be rescued in time.

Unfortunately, this is a reality every cruise passenger can face. But while drowning accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age, most victims are young children. In April of 2013, a four-year-old boy nearly drowned on board the Disney Fantasy. In February 2014, another four-year-old boy drowned and his six-year-old brother nearly drowned while on board the Norwegian Breakaway. And now, sadly, a third four-year-old boy was involved in a near-drowning accidents this weekend aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, leading us to wonder why in the world are cruise lines continuing to ignore the dire need to hire experienced lifeguards.

According to the latest news reports, the boy is in critical condition at the moment, receiving treatment at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. The near-drowning accident happened roughly about an hour after the vessel set sail on a 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary on Saturday. The young victim was “swept under” a wave and submerged under water for anywhere between five to ten minutes while in the ship’s wave pool.

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Happy Holidays from our maritime lawyers at LMAWThe holiday season is in full swing, and our maritime lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. want to make sure you and your loved ones are enjoying a wonderful – and safe – holidays, especially if you decide to go on a cruise vacation or boat outing. Though we’ve been lucky that there has been a push for greater transparency in cruise accident and crime reporting, which has increased the public’s awareness of what really goes on aboard a ship as well as placed greater focus on the industry itself and (hopefully) has led cruise lines to make sure they are abiding by proper safety standards, the fact still remains that tragedies can – and do – continue to occur on the high seas.

If you are planning to head to sea during the holidays, it’s important to understand the dangers that can present themselves while on a cruise or on a pleasure craft. While there are times when freak accidents can occur, many maritime accidents and crimes are the result of operator negligence, and there are things passengers can do to reduce their risk of becoming a victim. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can help ensure you and your loved ones stay as safe as possible while out at sea.

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Future of Cruise Industry in CubaOn Wednesday, December 17th, President Obama announced that the U.S. would resume full diplomacy with Cuba. While many cruise lines, airlines, and hotel chains have shown some excitement at the prospect of being able to help tourists travel to the island nation located only 90 miles south of the U.S., it may be years before U.S. travelers are allowed to visit Cuba.

The opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba means that the U.S. will establish an embassy in Havana. President Obama spoke personally with Raul Castro in order to finalize the decision. Obama explained that the historic change will finally put an end to Cold War era hostilities and help the U.S. write a “new chapter” in its history.

The New York Times reported that the change in U.S. policy came about after 18 months of secret talks that allowed for a prisoner exchange negotiation that involved Pope Francis’s intercession. Fidel Castro’s alliance with the Soviet Union and the Cuban Missile Crisis both set the stage for the U.S. embargo on Cuba and for the tensions that have been in place for the last 54 years.

But what impact can resuming diplomacy with Cuba have on the U.S. and the maritime industry as a whole? Will this affect consumer cruise ship travel?

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NorovirusCurious about the pesky virus that has been terrorizing the stomachs of thousands of cruise ship guests for years? Our maritime lawyers have the answers you’ve been waiting for.

It seems that hardly a month goes by before we have to hear about the dreaded Norovirus striking cruise ships once more. A cruise ship facing a Norovirus outbreak is a sad sight indeed. While the virus is seldom deadly, it can ruin a vacation. Guests who are stricken with the bug are usually quarantined in their cabins and left to suffer with diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps alone. Forget sunbathing, swimming, or enjoying your ports of call while sick with Norovirus. You might as well kiss your cruise vacation goodbye.

If you are a frequent cruiser, you may not be a stranger to Norovirus and its effects. You may already know that the virus is highly contagious and is acquired by close contact with an infected person, from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, or from touching a contaminated surface. But did you know that the virus can incapacitate its victims for days to up to a week? And did you know that severe symptoms of the virus result in anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations in a given year?

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Dawn Princess docked at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Dawn Princess docked at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Time and time again, our cruise ship lawyers have discussed the frequency of Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships. The dreaded gastrointestinal illness has been responsible for many ruined cruise vacations, with thousands of victims succumbing to its debilitating effects. Though death from Norovirus is rare, the illness can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare, leaving those affected with terrible stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.

Unfortunately, several cruisers have fallen prey to the stomach bug once more, this time on a Princess Cruises vessel. According to news reports, 200 passengers fell sick with Norovirus aboard the Dawn Princess this week. The ship was sailing to Australia from New Zealand when the bug spread across the vessel like wildfire.

Health officials say the victims were confined to their cabins, while Princess representatives claim they took measures to prevent further spread of the illness. But with 200 people sick with Norovirus, did crew members really do all they could to prevent the spread?

Princess Cruises said in a statement that “It takes relatively few cases to be reported onboard for even more stringent sanitation levels to be implemented. The containment response worked effectively and the number of new cases declined significantly.”

But what does Princess consider a few cases? 10 passengers? 50 passengers? 200 passengers?

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