Contributors
Charles R. Lipcon

Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years.Read More »

Jason R. Marguiles

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 »

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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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Each cruise ship rape lawyer at our firm has, unfortunately, seen many tragic cases where women have been raped while on board a cruise. We fight diligently to seek justice for these women and understand that victims often feel confused and alone. Yet, it’s important to remember that there are a variety of resources available to protect the rights of those who have been victims of rape and sexual assault on the high seas.

​First and foremost, if you’ve been assaulted on a ship, report the crime to ship authorities as soon as possible, but also report the incident to the FBI and Coast Guard on your own and consult with a cruise ship rape lawyer to discuss your rights and steps you should take after the incident to ensure your protection. It is vital for you to take action on your own for several reasons.

For one, though maritime law requires cruise lines to contact authorities and perform their own investigation when notified of a suspected sexual assault or rape, unfortunately, cruise lines don’t always do so. Often, cruise operators fail to report the crime to the FBI and other law enforcement authorities, fail to question alleged suspects, fail to review on board surveillance tapes for any record of the incident, or fail to perform a proper and thorough investigation of the alleged crime scene itself.

By contacting the FBI and Coast Guard on your own to report the crime directly, you can have peace of mind in knowing the incident was documented by the proper officials, who will take decisive action. And by contacting a cruise ship rape lawyer, you will have peace of mind in knowing that an experienced legal professional will start building a case for you immediately.

 

Yet, even when cruise lines do follow proper maritime protocols following an alleged sexual assault or rape, the fact still stands that even the most skilled and experienced of a ship’s security officers often cannot investigate the incident or gather evidence as accurately as an actual law enforcement officer or FBI agent would be able to.

​Also, if the assault occurred while the ship was docked in a foreign country, that nation’s authorities will be responsible for conducting the primary investigation and may not do so thoroughly or quickly enough and may not even be willing to cooperate with U.S. authorities or the victims themselves. This not only creates a window of opportunity for the assailant to get away with the crime, but hinders the victim’s ability to obtain justice.

​Additionally, if you have been raped onboard a cruise ship, do not shower immediately and leave the crime scene intact so that investigators have a chance to collect as much evidence as possible. Make sure that the crime scene is not altered until proper authorities can investigate. Unfortunately, due to international laws, the FBI may not be able to investigate the crime scene until the ship docks at a U.S. port.

You should also seek medical treatment immediately, either on board the ship or at a local hospital if docked at a foreign country. While medical services on a cruise ship are limited, most cruises have at least one doctor on duty that can perform at least a basic health screening and take samples that may be later used to identify the assailant.

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On December 2, a 161-foot multi-million dollar mega-yacht stopped both sea and land traffic when it collided into a drawbridge near Biscayne Bay. The yacht was being pulled by two tug boats when it hit the drawbridge that connects North Miami to Bay Harbor Islands.

The yacht, named the Rockstar, became pinned under the drawbridge, stopping both sea and land traffic. Authorities explain 15 people were on board the vessel, but fortunately no one was hurt in the incident.

​Reports indicate that the drawbridge may have collapsed on top of the yacht while it was being pulled beneath the channel. When the bridge landed on the yacht, it came down next to the hot tub and caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

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When we board a cruise ship, we enter a world of cloistered comfort and safety. It can be easy to forget the dangers inherent in voyaging out to sea. All sea vessels, including cruise ships, ferries, and cargo ships, are vulnerable to weather, shallow reefs, and other obstacles. They can also sink due to faulty equipment. Add to that the fact that these vessels travel great distance over the vast and unpredictable ocean and you have a recipe for (occasional) disaster.

Curious about some of these accidents? Our maritime attorneys have compiled a list of the top ten worst maritime disasters on record. Let’s take a look.

10. In 1954, the Toya Maru, a Japanese passenger ferry sank between Hokkaido and Honshu. While the official recorded death toll is 1,153, the actual death toll may be higher or lower because some passengers actually didn’t board with tickets, while others cancelled their bookings before setting sail.
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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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Bill Cosby accused of rapeWith 16 women having come out in recent weeks accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault and abuse, it’s become extremely clear that sexual assault needs to be brought to the forefront – especially sexual assault on cruise ships. Not only is it important for cruise ship rape victims to understand the importance of coming forward with their testimonies, it is equally critical that cruise lines start implementing greater safety measures to prevent these tragedies in the first place.

There are several similarities between the incidents with Cosby and those that happen on board cruise ships. For example, Time Magazine reports that many of the women who accused Cosby of sexual assault remained silent about the abuse during the comedian’s long career, spanning from the 70s to the present. Some of the women say that Cosby drugged them before assaulting them. More shockingly, Cosby’s history of rape would not have reached the public eye had the comedian Hannibal Buress not mentioned it in a comic routine.

Like Cosby’s victims, there are numerous sexual assaults and rapes on cruise ships that never see the light of day. Whether it’s because the victim is afraid to come forward or the cruise line fails to properly investigate the situation, assailants do not always get identified or charged with their actions. Furthermore, cruise lines have an interest in underreporting sexual crimes. For example, although Carnival Cruise Lines reported five rape incidents involving crew members and two incidents of sexual assault for 2013, experts believe these numbers may not be accurate.

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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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