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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cruise ship accident lawyers, US Coast Guard, cruise ship safety, cruise line safety deficienciesOur cruise ship accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. often talk about the many faux pas of the cruising industry, including the all-too-often failure of cruise lines to maintain their ships in a safe condition, as well as the inability of many cruise lines to practice safe maritime protocols. Unfortunately, the general public sees only a glimpse of what really happens behind closed doors that leads to a tragedy, and usually only after a major accident has occurred. Now, we’re learning the shocking extent of cruise lines’ negligent practices from a Coast Guard report – and this information is available for everyone to see.

According to the Coast Guard’s most recent report on cruise ship safety deficiencies, the organization found – and issued – safety citations on 329 safety failures and deficiencies in 2014. As a way to keep the public informed about the most common safety failures and deficiencies, the Coast Guard listed the most frequent safety issues reported on cruise ships. Below are the top ten safety features on cruise ships that failed to pass the test.

 

#1—Fire Screen Door Failures: Fire screen doors help keep fires isolated when, and if, they occur on a cruise ship. These doors, when in proper operation, can prevent the vessel from experiencing a ship-wide conflagration. Yet, when the Coast Guard tested the doors, citations were issued in 31 cases where the doors were damaged or unable to close properly.

#2—Blocked Escape Routes: Doors, hatches, and other escape routes located on board ships were found to be blocked. These blockages could create an unsafe evacuation situation in the event that people needed to be able to leave an area of the ship quickly in an emergency. Continue reading

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Carnival Imagination, large waves, surf, storm, Southern California, cruise lawyersFor surfers, Southern California’s shores have transformed into a dream world of epic waves. Visit any surf Website these days and you’ll see images of the brave few careening down near-vertical walls of water. But while surfers may crave these towering waves, giant swells are not in the advantage of cruisers, and as any cruise accident lawyer at our firm can tell you, large waves can pose a big risk to cruise passenger safety.

A number of travelers who had planned on visiting Mexico on a cruise ship departing from Long Beach, California experienced firsthand the impact that the area’s large waves are making. A storm near New Zealand brought huge surf to Southern California, creating dangerous sea conditions that made it near impossible for passengers scheduled to board the Carnival Imagination ship this past Sunday out of Long Beach, Instead, prospective cruisers found themselves on a shuttle to San Diego, 100 miles to the south, where the boarding location was switched, as waters were not as dangerous.

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Holland America, MS Maasdam, Norovirus, cruise ship lawyers, LMAWJust last week, our cruise ship lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. reported on a disturbing incident that involved three Holland America passengers. The passengers – all of whom experienced varying emergency conditions – were evacuated from the MS Ryndam cruise ship on the night of April 20 as the vessel was sailing near the coast of Tampa, Florida en route to London. According to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, one victim sustained a leg injury, another suffered a head injury, and the third passenger went into cardiac arrest. The nature of the injuries were not disclosed, and while investigations deemed they were unrelated, we can’t help but wonder what could have possibly happened on board the ship that day that led to not one, but THREE cruise passenger emergencies!

And now, just days later, Holland America has made headlines once again, and this time, it’s over the all-too-famous “cruise ship stomach bug”, aka Norovirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 passengers aboard the MS Maasdam cruise ship have reported classic Norovirus symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. But that’s not all; 11 crew members have also shown signs of the dreaded gastrointestinal illness.

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boating accidentOur boating accident lawyers here at LMAW often discuss some of the important safety factors to consider while sailing in open waters, in order to prevent an injury. Here in Florida, we tend to have a higher number of boat accidents due to the fact that we are surrounded by water. However, boating accidents can occur anywhere and anytime.

In 2012 alone, the U.S. Coast Guard reported over 4,000 boating accidents leading to over 600 deaths. 3000 people were injured as a result of these accidents and boating accidents cost citizens over $38 million in damage to property and personal injury costs.    The Coast Guard released a summary of the factors contributing to these accidents, which can help boaters avoid a tragedy while sailing.

Among the top contributing factors to accidents, boater inattention tops the list. This led to over 500 accidents and over 40 deaths in 2012 alone. Inexperience, machinery failure, and excessive speed were also to blame for accidents, as was alcohol intoxication. Many of these accidents could have been prevented by avoiding these unsafe actions.

The most common types of boating accidents are collisions, flooding, and groundings. However, many of these incidents can be avoided by paying careful attention to one’s surroundings and having a keen awareness of local boating laws. One way to prevent an accident is for boaters to use up-to-date maps, which will show areas that can pose a potential grounding hazard, such as areas where there are a large number of reefs. Because sea conditions can change based on the tide, season, or even due to shifting sand, boaters should take the time to understand the unique conditions of the areas they are visiting and avoid those that are more high-risk. Technological advances can also provide boaters with up-to-date underwater topological information. Boaters should also use caution when sailing in waters that are known to be shallow, and maintain a prudent speed at all times.

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cruise ship pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Value of Statistical Life, cruise lawyers, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A.Earlier this month, our cruise lawyers here at LMAW blogged about how major cruise lines scored on the Friends of the Earth “environmental report card” and which cruise lines were the most sustainable, meaning which lines employ the best efforts at reducing their environmental footprint. In keeping with that topic, we’ve decided to highlight another environmental organization’s efforts to maintain the planet as safe and “green” as possible, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What not many people may know is that the EPA uses a statistically-based estimate called the “value of statistical life”, with which the agency assigns a dollar value to each life “saved” as a result of environmental and risk reduction policies.

The current value of statistical life is estimated to be at about $7.4 million per each life saved. This means that when the EPA determines whether to implement policies or to create infrastructure that could prevent deadly pollution from affecting individuals, children, and homes, the value of statistical life is used to determine whether the policy will have a sufficient societal benefit.

In general, the EPA asks individuals what they would be willing to pay to reduce their risk of dying by 1 in 100,000. Of course, when we’re dealing in statistics and abstract concepts, the average person might have trouble determining risk and understanding whether a given policy is worth the cost.

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Royal Caribbean, Majest of the Seas, cruise ship, oil leak, environmental impact, cruise attorneysRoyal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas won’t be setting sail due to an oil leak that requires repairs. While Royal Caribbean’s public relation’s team is working hard to mitigate public perception of the leak, our cruise attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can’t help but wonder how much of an impact on the environmental the spill will cause.

It appears as though Royal Caribbean is downplaying the incident, which isn’t entirely uncommon for cruise lines, as many cruise companies tend to avoid taking responsibility when failing to maintain maritime safety. A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean went as far as to refer to the oil leak as “small” and that it is releasing a “small amount of bio-friendly oil.” But when is any kind of oil leak environmentally safe? And, what exactly is this bio-friendly oil?

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Alcohol on cruise shipsLast week, our maritime lawyers here at LMAW talked about Norwegian Cruise Line’s new all-inclusive alcohol sailings, where the ship will include alcohol in the ticket price for select three- and four-day itineraries on the Norwegian Sky. We discussed how alcohol has often played a role in cruise passenger accidents and injuries – sometimes even leading to fatal alcohol poisoning. Yet, instead of regulating alcohol sales on board ships, cruise lines continue to encourage a drinking environment. While many cruise passengers avoid purchasing alcohol during their sailing, Norwegian’s new all-you-can drink option can lead to a greater number of people becoming intoxicated and, consequently, a greater number of accidents.

From our perspective, there are a ton of cons associated with the all-inclusive alcohol sailings. But from a passenger standpoint, we can see how not having to worry about purchasing individual drinks or an expensive beverage package might be appealing. But is the option really that much of a benefit for cruisers or is it just another way for the cruise line to make a profit? Let’s take a look at what the real cost of these sailings looks like.

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Norwegian Criuse Line, Norwegian Sky, all-inclusive alcohol, unlimited alcohol, cruise ship accident lawyersThe cruise ship accident lawyers at our firm have often discussed how dangerous it can be for cruise passengers to become intoxicated while on a ship. Unfortunately, cruise lines tend to promote a drinking culture, as a huge portion of their profits stem from alcohol sales. Though there’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks while on vacation, the problem is that not every cruise ship bartender cuts passengers off when they’ve had one too many, leading many passengers to become overly intoxicated, which then leads to accidents, injuries, sexual assault, and even alcohol poisoning deaths. Many times, the victims of alcohol-related incidents are underage, such as the 14-year-old who died from alcohol poisoning aboard the Carnival Miracle in 2013.

But while alcohol has been the cause of several tragic accidents and fatalities on ships, it doesn’t appear as though the cruise industry is going to make any changes to better regulate onboard alcohol sales and consumption. In fact, things might actually get worse pretty soon, following a recent announcement by Norwegian Cruise Line.

Norwegian announced this week that it will be offering an all-inclusive drink package for guests on select Norwegian Sky sailings. This means that passengers are going to be able to drink all the alcoholic beverages they want for the entire duration of their cruise without having to pay a penny. No individual drink charges. No beverage package. No limits. This is a recipe for disaster if we ever saw one.

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cruising, expenses, cut costs, cruise lawyers, cruise expensesCruising can be a lot of fun. From the food to the entertainment, there are a lot of benefits a cruise vacation can offer over a land-based escape. But it while cruising does have its perks, our cruise attorneys here at LMAW know that costs can quickly add up on the high seas. Below are three tips that can help curb the extra expenses that can be incurred while sailing aboard a ship.

Bring a Care Package

Our cruise lawyers have often blogged about how expensive it can be to obtain medical care while on board a ship. Even something as minor as aspirin can cost you well over what you would expect to pay at a land-based pharmacy or drug store. But it doesn’t stop there. Regular every day essentials like bottled water and toothpaste can cost you an arm and a leg if you’re purchasing them on board. If you’re going on a cruise, make sure to pack a first aid kit with supplies like bandages, alcohol pads, and headache medicine so you can avoid incurring extra fees. Also, remember to pack basic toiletries, including hygienic products, cologne, and other commodities to avoid extra charges. Continue reading

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Environment, pollution, cruise lines, cruise ships, cruise lawyers, sustainabilityWhen it comes to green cruising, the idea is more of a paradox and misnomer than a fact. According to the Guardian, when compared with flying, cruising mile per mile burns more fossil fuels than long haul flights. Unfortunately, carbon emissions are not the only type pollution produced by cruise ships. As our cruise attorneys here at LMA&W well know, cruise ships have been criticized for their inability to properly manage wastewater and disposal. While technology is constantly being improved, not all new ships are equipped with the latest environmental protection systems, and it can be years before older ships implement environmentally friendly features.

According to the Guardian, on a one-week cruise, a single ship can amass 50 tons of trash and generate a million tons of wastewater. After just one week of cruising, a single ship can generate as much as 35,000 gallons of water contaminated with oil. Unfortunately, not all of this water gets treated. Some of it gets released into the ocean. Even more alarming, a cruise ship can burn as much as 400 tons of fuel in a single day, and sometimes even more. The average cruise lasts about a week, meaning that these pollution rates are fairly standard for the typical cruise vacation.

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