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 Maritime Matter of the Week

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Oceania InsigniaIt’s been almost a year since the Carnival Triumph made headlines after a fire erupted in the vessel’s engine room due to a fuel leak, disabling the ship and leaving more than 3,000 people aboard a ship that had meager rations, broken toilets, and sewage dripping down the walls. Fortunately, no one was injured as a result of the accident, but we later came to learn that the fire could have possibly been prevented had Carnival followed recommendations to install spray shields on the Triumph’s fuel hoses. A compliance report revealed that Carnival was aware of the risks involved if it did not install the spray shields, yet failed to do so regardless.

Our maritime lawyers thought the Triumph debacle would have served as a dire reminder to the cruise industry about what can go wrong when safety protocols aren’t followed, but a recent tragedy in St Lucia is leaving us to wonder if the industry will ever truly learn from previous mistakes.

According to news reports, three people were killed in a cruise ship fire accident aboard the luxury liner Oceania Insignia earlier this morning. The fire broke out while the vessel was docked on St. Lucia. The victims included a cruise ship crew member and two contractors who were working aboard the ship. Another crew member who suffered serious injuries is currently receiving treatment at a hospital.  Continue reading →

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Sun PrincessJust last week, we discussed a rather disturbing video we saw regarding a Carnival Cruise Line passenger who purposefully jumped overboard from the ship as it approached the port of Grand Turk. We say disturbing because there have been 239 cruise passenger overboard accidents in the past decade alone, and this individual’s choice to jump ship makes a mockery out of those victims’ suffering – along with their families’ suffering. This man is lucky to be alive, as it is a rare few that actually survive falling overboard. We don’t know what got into him. Maybe he thought it was funny? Maybe he just wasn’t thinking? Either way, it was a careless decision – and careless is putting it lightly.

Overboard accidents are no laughing matter. Hundreds of people have lost their lives after falling overboard – and many of these accidents remain unsolved cruise passenger disappearance crimes and mysteries to this date. Purposefully jumping off the ship is an extremely dangerous thing to do. If you feel the urge to jump, jump into the pool on your ship, or jump up and down on your stateroom’s bed. Jumping 60 feet off a ship into waters that you have no idea what’s lurking within is extremely reckless and will most likely result in a fatality.

But while one person is busy poking fun at jumping overboard, the family of one actual overboard victim is now grieving for the loss of their loved one. Our maritime lawyers were saddened to learn that the search for a cruise passenger who fell from a Princess Cruises ship was called off.

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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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Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor

Thinking about cruising to the Bahamas? Well, you might want to rethink that decision after hearing about the latest travel warning that’s been issued.

Any maritime lawyer can tell you that some of the ports cruise lines call on are not what you’d call the model of safety. We’ve often discussed how certain destinations in the Caribbean have been wrought with crime and have posed a danger not only for cruise passengers, but for crew members as well. One of these ports is the Bahamas.

For years, the U.S. government has been trying to alert potential travelers as to the dangers of visiting the Bahamas. Crime has been escalating at an alarming rate, causing some cruise lines, like Carnival, to hand out warning letters to its guests when docking in the island nation. Both cruise lines and the U.S. government have also provided travelers with a list of areas in the Bahamas prone to crime so travelers can steer clear of them, and have advised travelers to remain as close to port as possible. But with every warning there seems to be an equal, if not greater ratio of crimes that continue to occur throughout the Bahamas. Despite all the efforts that have been made on the Bahamian government’s part, such as increasing police forces in Nassau, nothing seems to work. Crime rates are higher than ever, which leads us to wonder: If the Bahamian government is taking the crime problem as seriously as they should?

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Robotic bartenders on Quantum of the SeasWe’ve all seen our fair share of sci-fi movies where some kind of creature or artificially intelligent creature is taking over the planet. Though these flicks can sometimes leave us with the tiniest bit of curiosity over whether any of the extraordinary events detailed on the Big Screen can actually occur in real life, in the end, we know it’s just the magic of the movies taking over our thoughts – or is it?

A recent revelation regarding the cruise industry has left us thinking otherwise. And maybe, just maybe, robots might be staking their claim over humans after all. Well, at least where the cruise industry is concerned.

If you’re the kind of reader that cringes at the idea of mechanical beings roaming amongst the living, then look away. But if you’re brave enough to venture into the future of cruise travel with us, then buckle up, you’re in for quite a ride.

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HalloweenIt’s that time of year again. Time to get dressed up and hunt for candy. Time to enjoy friendly tricks for treats. It’s Halloween and there’s plenty of fun to be had, whether you are young or young at heart.

Some of us will be spending the holiday with our kids while some of us may decide to attend a ghoulish party or two. And then there are those of us who will be celebrating Halloween aboard a cruise ship. And, for those of us who have elected to spend the holiday on a ship, you’re in for quite the thrill. Since Halloween happened to fall on a Friday, there are several three and four day cruise sailings that are going to feature special activities for guests, anywhere from costume contests to specialty drinks to pumpkin carving. Many ships even offer trick or treating opportunities for kids. But while it can be easy to get lost in the excitement of the costumes and games, it’s important to remember that Halloween can also be a very dangerous holiday.

Accidents and crimes at sea can take place at any time, but on a day like Halloween, there’s a much greater chance that cruise ship guests can get hurt. Between the large number of people that will be on board a ship this weekend having a good time, the costumes that can cause perpetrators to more easily get away with committing a crime like sexual assault, and the fact that many adult passengers will be drinking (many to an excess), trouble is a lot more likely to strike on a Halloween cruise. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your chances of getting hurt or becoming the target of a crime. Our maritime lawyers have a few tips that will help you stay as safe as possible.

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