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

Posted by

sick cruise passengerWith Ebola having killed over 3,000 people in west Africa, and having killed one victim already in the U.S., some cruise line passengers may wonder whether traveling might put them at risk. Given the fact that cruise ships are filled with small, confined spaces and up to thousands of people in one sailing, they are often a breeding grounds for diseases.

The maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen a wide range of outbreaks affect cruise passengers, but by far, the most frequently reported of all infectious disease incidents are associated with Norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness that is extremely contagious. The fact that cruise ships offer such close quarters, once Norovirus starts spreading, an outbreak becomes likely, resulting in ship quarantines and sick passengers. Additionally, the fact that cruise ships often maintain subpar sanitation, the likelihood with which a virus can spread is exacerbated.

So, given the fact that disease can spread quickly on board a ship, are cruise passengers at greater risk for contracting Ebola? Yes and no.

Continue reading →

CaboLast Saturday, the Star Princess cruise ship called on Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to deliver supplies to residents after the area was devastated by Hurricane Odile. According to news reports, the Princess Cruises’ ship brought bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

“The residents of Cabo San Lucas form one big hospitality community that regularly welcomes our ships’ guests. We want to return that hospitality by giving back to them as they work to recover and prepare to receive visitors once again,” said Princess President Jan Swartz.

Though we applaud Princess’ decisions to assist the devastated city, we can’t help but wonder where this same sense of urgency and consideration was when another Carnival Corp. vessel, the Carnival Triumph, was in need of assistance?

Continue reading →

Posted by

St KittsThe new cruise season is approaching, and many are getting ready to hit the high seas in full force. However, given the fact that the last few years have been riddled with criticism for the cruise industry, any experienced maritime lawyer might wonder if there will even be a significant turnout of passengers.

Results from recently conducted Harris Polls reveal that trust in the cruise industry has severely declined due to an increase in the number of accidents and crimes in the past few years. The Costa Concordia tragedy of 2012 and the Carnival Triumph fire of 2013 were two of the accidents that had the most significant impact on cruiser opinion. The Concordia accident, which involved the vessel crashing into a large rock off the coast of Giglio, Italy and subsequently capsizing, led to the deaths of 32 individuals. The Triumph fire was the result of a fuel leak, and the incident left over 3,000 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with meager rations and zero working toilets. Sadly, both of these accidents could have been prevented had a greater amount of care been given to ensuring the safety of passengers.

But while the public’s opinion on cruising has diminished, one nation projects a pretty significant spike in the number of cruisers that will call on its port.

According to a recent article on the Caribbean Journal, St Kitts, one of the most popular cruise destinations, expects around one million cruise passengers for the 2014/2015 cruise season, a 31.5 percent increase over last year’s totals and an overall 500 percent increase over the past eight years.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Cruise ships in Grand TurkThe Caribbean has long been one of the most popular cruise destinations, and for good reason. The allure of basking beneath the warm sun, swimming with dolphins, or just kicking back with a cocktail beneath a swaying palm is not something anyone can easily deny. But as any offshore injury lawyer at our firm can tell you, even the Caribbean, with all its splendor and promise of adventure, can pose a threat to cruise travelers.

Both journeys to the Caribbean aboard a cruise ship and experiences ashore can be dangerous for several reasons. On board a ship, accidents and crimes can happen at any moment just like they do on land. Though cruise lines have a responsibility under maritime law to protect those onboard from harm, again like land based hotels and resorts, they don’t always do a good enough job at fulfilling this duty. The ratio of ship board security people, surveillance equipment and monitoring and the level of training, experience, and resources that the ship board security staff has is considerably less than that available in most land based hotels and resorts. Remember, once that vessel is at sea, getting outside help to assist the shipboard crew can take hours to accomplish if it is accomplishable at all.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Lower chances of getting sick on a cruiseIn our last blog, our maritime lawyers discussed a suspected measles outbreak in Alaska. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anchorage Quarantine Station, a cruise ship crew member allegedly came into contact with “a confirmed measles case aboard”. Despite the fact that the CDC did not specify which ship the crew member was on, the organization did report that the crew member showed the “classic clinical symptoms of measles” and additionally had come into contact with others while on international and domestic flights.

The CDC conducts two yearly sanitation inspections on all cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, and many have repeatedly failed. This means that there is a very possible risk that if the crew member did in fact have measles, the crew member may not have been quarantined, nor the areas he or she was exposed to. And given the fact that measles is extremely contagious and can spread through airborne exposure to the virus, it is imperative that anyone considering going on a cruise to Alaska understand the risks of being exposed to measles, as well as their options for staying as healthy as possible. Our maritime lawyers have a few tips for potential cruisers to avoid the chance of contagion. Continue reading →

Posted by

sick cruise passengerThis year was one of the worst that each maritime lawyer here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has seen when it comes to illnesses at sea. There have been a record number of Norovirus outbreaks that have left thousands of cruise passengers, including the largest Norovirus outbreak in cruise ship history, which occurred aboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. More than 600 people fell ill with the infamous “cruise stomach flu,” suffering a range of uncomfortable and potentially fatal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Since it’s a virus, there is no medication currently available to specifically treat Norovirus, so victims must wait it out, staying as hydrated as possible to ensure a fast recovery.

Unfortunately, one of the worst characteristics of Norovirus is the fact that it can spread so easily. The virus can be transmitted by ingesting food and drink that has been contaminated (such as by sharing food with an infected person) or by coming in contact with surfaces that have been contaminated. And because of the fact that cruise passengers are confined to their ships, the virus can spread extremely fast, leading hundreds of people to become ill in a manner of hours. Continue reading →

Posted by

Cruise itinerary changesLast time, our admiralty lawyer discussed the unfortunate truth behind cruise itinerary changes that stem from unfavorable weather conditions during hurricane season: passengers will likely not get reimbursed. Cruise passengers usually get the short end of the stick when their itineraries are changed for weather-related reasons. For one, most cruise lines specify in their passenger ticket contracts that they will not be held responsible for any changes or cancellations due to unfavorable weather, which means they don’t have to offer passengers any sort of compensation or even onboard credit for their losses. Whatever money the traveler spent will most likely be lost. If lucky, the cruise line will offer a few free drinks or casino credits. But that’s a big IF.

Aside from losing money from their cruise ticket purchase, itinerary changes can cause several other problems for passengers outside the actual cruise line. Some travelers book excursions through outside companies and will almost certainly not get a refund because of a weather-related cancellation – even if it was the cruise line’s decision to make the itinerary changers. Other travelers make plans at certain ports of call, especially when a ship stays at a destination overnight, and reserve hotel accommodations which they may lose their deposit – if not entire payment – for.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Weather related cruise itinerary changesIn our last blog, our admiralty lawyer Michael Winkleman discussed the many ways in which adverse weather conditions can affect a cruise ship’s itinerary. Though cruise lines would often prefer to take their chances with a storm than cancel an entire itinerary and lose revenue, there are times when weather conditions are so dangerous, cruise lines don’t have a choice. Given that we are right at the peak of hurricane season, it’s important for potential cruise passengers to know what they can expect in the upcoming months.

If a major storm threatens the Caribbean in the upcoming months, which is where the vast majority of cruise itineraries are focused, travelers booked on cruise vacations may notice a change in the ship’s ports of call. Some cruise lines may opt to visit an alternate destination in lieu of the dropped port, or, as happens frequently, may decide to just spend the day at sea – much to the dismay of cruise passengers who have spent time planning their vacations expecting to visit certain destinations and who have paid (in many cases) a significant amount of money for their cruises.

A substituted port, while not the original destination a cruise passenger might have had their hearts set on, is at least a fair exchange. However, when a cruise line decides to just skip a port – or cancel a cruise completely – and offer passengers no recourse, that’s when tensions start to build.

Continue reading →

August and September are prime months for hurricanes in the Caribbean. If you’ll be traveling over the next few weeks, it’s important to know your rights before you travel.  And when it comes to changes in itinerary due to bad weather, the deck is stacked against you and in favor of the cruise line.  Thus, travel at your own risk during hurricane season.

Cruise lines seldom want to cancel whole trips due to the presence of hurricanes in the Caribbean. This is the because the only way cruise lines make money is by having cruises.  Thus, this is a dangerous profit motive that often puts passengers in harm’s way (see Carnival Triumph).  In the case a hurricane develops, there’s always a chance your cruise will be cancelled entirely, or, you may have your itinerary changed.  Rerouting of ships due to the presence of storms is pretty common in the industry. This is important to note if you intend to travel during peak hurricane season. If you have a dream “must-see” destination on your itinerary, it would be safest to plan your trip off peak hurricane season, especially because there’s always a chance cruise operators will decide to sail into the storm.

Any maritime attorney at our firm can tell you that when it comes to cruises, vacationers should be prepared for changes in plans. Cruise passengers are not generally entitled to compensation or reimbursement if a cruise’s itinerary changes due to a storm. In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the danger of fine print in cruise passenger ticket contracts, which allows cruise lines – in many cases – to attempt to avoid liability when an accident or passenger injury occurs due to negligence, and also, in cases where itinerary changes are made due to adverse weather conditions. This means that passengers often have little recourse should the cruise line decide to change or cancel the itinerary.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Princess Cruises avoids volcanic eruption in Papua New GuineaIt’s not every day that our maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. get to see a cruise line making the right decision when it comes to protecting the safety of passengers and crew. We’ve seen far too many accidents that have resulted from a cruise operator’s inability to make the correct call when avoiding regions of political unrest, warfare and general turmoil. In fact, just a few weeks ago, cruise ships were sailing through the Middle East and right across the Gaza Strip conflict. One AIDA ship was even hit by missile debris from an attack on Ashdod as it was leaving port. Though calls on any Israeli port should have been cancelled the moment tensions between Israel and Palestine arose over the Gaza Strip, cruise lines continued to visit the area, placing passenger and crew lives at risk of serious – if not fatal – injuries.

Now, another threat has placed the safety of cruise passengers at risk – a volcano. According to a post on Cruise Critic, a volcano erupted in Papua New Guinea, which led Princess Cruises to make a big decision regarding the itinerary of its ship, the Dawn Princess.

Continue reading →