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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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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AquaTheater, Allure of the SeasU.S.A. Today reported yesterday morning that Holland America is taking bookings for its newest and largest ship, just in time for the holiday season. The vessel, named the Koningsdam, will offer passengers 12-night journeys to various destinations in the Mediterranean. The vessel can hold as many as 2,650 passengers.

Sounds exciting, right? Well, maybe from a cruiser’s standpoint. From the standpoint of an offshore injury lawyer, it’s little more complicated than that. Though sometimes bigger can be better, that’s not always the case when it come to cruise ships. You would think that the giant ships cruise lines are coming out with these days are the epitome of perfection…right? Think again. Sure, the newer and larger ships may have a ton of cool and innovative features, but just because a ship is large doesn’t necessary make it safer than a more modestly-sized vessel. Let’s take a look at the statistics.

In 2013, The New York Times investigated into increasing cruise ship sizes, and what was discovered will astound you. While in 1985, the largest cruise ship was 46,000 tons, today’s ships can weigh as much as 225,000 tons. Lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about cruise ship size, as cruises carried 17 million passengers in 2000. Safety experts, lawmakers, and regulators have expressed trepidation about these mega-ships.

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Our Maritime Attorneys Wish You a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy HolidaysThanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, and for so many reasons. This time of year inspires people to connect with one another and give back to each other and to the community. The holiday season tends to bring people closer together and highlights all the things we have to be thankful for. With this in mind, each maritime attorney at our firm would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving and holidays in general and to share how thankful we are to have the opportunity to help those who have been involved in a cruise ship or boating accident to obtain justice.

We are also thankful for Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller’s continual efforts to improve transparency across the cruise industry (and safety in general), which has led several major cruise lines to reveal their crime and accident data reports to the public – data which many cruise lines have hid from the public eye for several years. In addition, we are thankful for all the efforts that have been made by cruise lines, cargo companies, and other maritime companies to improve safety for both passengers and crew members. We are equally thankful for those who have abided by the highest standards of safety while boating, such as avoiding speeding, refraining from boating while under the influence, and wearing life jackets. Your efforts continue to make a world of difference and, whether you realize it or not, have helped to reduce and prevent tragedies in open waters.

To continue on the subject of safety, we’d like to share a few maritime safety tips to ensure you stay as safe as possible during the holidays if your plans include spending time at sea on a cruise ship or aboard a boat or personal water craft. Continue reading →

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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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Preparing for a cruise vacationIt’s that time of year again, time to escape the winter weather, and head down to the Caribbean for some fun, sun, and your long-awaited, long-deserved cruise. Because any offshore injury lawyer are our firm knows all too well that disasters can happen on a ship, we want to make sure that your experience is delightful and, above all, safe. Here are a few tips to help make your cruise experience a memorable and safe one.

 

Be Prepared

First and foremost, check your itinerary. Weather and other circumstances sometimes affect itineraries and cause certain ports to be canceled. It’s important to check these things ahead of time so you don’t get an unfortunate surprise at the port. Passengers should also double check that they have packed their passports and any visas they may require for their cruise. There are times when travelers have not been allowed to disembark or re-board their ship at a foreign port of call because they forgot crucial identification. Being left behind at a port can mean a ton of expenses to return home and can place passengers at risk for criminal attacks, so be sure to compile a list of important identification needs to cross out before departing.

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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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