Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Safety

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Although cruises are inherently exciting because of the almost unlimited choices of entertainment, excursions, and recreational activities, an international cruise on the Amazon offers a unique experience.  While this type of adventure also could pose potential dangers, most cruise passengers presume their cruise line complies with or exceeds industry safety standards.  This assumption is inaccurate in some cases.  Although a fatally injured passenger might have a right to pursue a lawsuit seeking damages, this can be a difficult task to the extent the Death on the High Seas Act represents the controlling law.  In this blog, our cruise ship injury lawyers review a cruise ship tragedy that reveals the vulnerability of passengers.

Larry and Christie Hammer, an elderly married couple embarked on an Amazon River cruise offered by a Peruvian company.  While the couple was sleeping in their cabin, a power strip supplied by the cruise company and used by the plaintiff to power his CPAP machine caused a fire.  Even after the couple’s cabin was engulfed in flame, no fire alarms sounded.  Mr. Hammer died on the scene, and his wife died from carbon dioxide poisoning on the way to a hospital.  Because fire alarms did not alert the Hammers and crew members of the fire, the fire raged on for 21 minutes before any cruise personnel came to the couple’s aid.  Continue reading →

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Although cruise lines often market their ships as vacation destinations for families, many major cruise lines have elected to operate without lifeguards for decades.  In the wake of multiple drownings aboard ships operated by most of the major cruise companies, the industry is shifting toward using lifeguards to improve passenger safety.  With the announcement by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian that they will be implementing a water safety program, Carnival remains the only remaining major cruise company not to use lifeguards.  In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine this announcement and trend in the wake of recent drownings and near drownings on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise ships have averaged at least one drowning or near drowning incident annually since 2013.  An eight-year-old boy was reportedly on life support after being found unconscious in a swimming pool of Royal Caribbean’s “Anthem of the Seas’ in July 2016.  In another incident, an eight-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool on Royal Caribbean’s “Liberty of the Seas,” which did not have a lifeguard on duty in December of 2015.  A near drowning incident in January of 2015 prompted publication of an article in the Miami Herald regarding the risk pools posed to children traveling on cruises because of the absence of lifeguards.  These are merely a few recent examples of drowning and near drowning incidents on these two cruise lines in recent years. Continue reading →

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When passengers choose a cruise as their mode of travel, they reasonably anticipate that the crew will provide an enjoyable and safe experience.  The last thing cruise guests expect is that they will become a violent crime victim with the perpetrator being a member of the staff or crew hired to make the experience an enjoyable voyage.  Unfortunately, stories of passengers being attacked, raped, or killed by the criminal acts of cruise ship personnel appear far too frequently in media reports.  In this blog post, our Miami cruise ship accident attorneys review such an incident that resulted in a confidential settlement between the cruise line and the passenger.

The Sun Sentinal published an article late last year after the former cruise ship worker complained in front of a federal judge that the former employee was having a difficult time dealing with the violence in prison.  The former employee of a major cruise line was sentenced to thirty years in prison after a violent attack during which he brutally assaulted and attempted to kill a female cruise passenger.  Prosecutors described the incident that occurred on a cruise that left from Port Everglades as an extraordinarily violent and cruel attack. Continue reading →

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While cruises offer a litany of fun and recreational activities, a certain amount of risk of injury accompanies some of these activities.  This risk increases significantly when cruise lines and companies with whom they arrange excursions fail to exercise reasonable care for the safety of passengers.  Cruise lines attempt to erect obstacles to liability that include requiring passengers to sign waivers of liability.  In this blog, our Miami cruise accident attorneys review an appellate court decision permitting a lawsuit to move forward despite the existence of a waiver executed by the plaintiff in favor of the cruise company.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida considered the enforceability of a waiver in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a jet ski accident during a cruise.  The plaintiff and her companion were passengers on the Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas.  During the cruise, the couple took part in a jet ski tour in which the participants were supposed to follow in a line one behind the other.  A tour guide was located at the front of the line of jet skis while a second tour guide traveled alongside the group to keep the jet ski riders adequately spaced.  The jet ski tour departed from Coco Cay Island, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. Continue reading →

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Our first blog post in this two-part series analyzed the barriers to legal compensation in slip and fall lawsuits against cruise companies based on the ticket contract.  While all plaintiffs injured in falls must overcome considerable obstacles, cruise passengers face an even tougher road.  Whether the fall occurs at sea during a cruise under federal maritime law or in a Miami grocery store under Florida state law, the knowledge of the defendant constitutes one of the most critical issues in determining the outcome.  In this post, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine the challenges that must be navigated even after the obstacles created by the restrictive language in the passenger ticket contract have been successfully handled.

The cruise line will not be liable for a slip and fall accident caused by a hazard on board ship unless the cruise line knew or should have known of the existence of the unsafe condition.  While the specific defense strategies a cruise line will employ will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, one of the most common tactics used by cruise companies is to claim it lacked the requisite knowledge of the hazard.  Even if the cruise company lacks actual knowledge, constructive knowledge is sufficient.  Constructive knowledge essentially means that the cruise line should have known of the hazard with the exercise of reasonable care.

Although constructive knowledge can be established through multiple approaches, establishing the hazard was present for a long enough time that it should have been discovered and made safe will be the most common approach.  A way that the timeline for the creation or existence of a hazard can be proven involves the use of incident reports from prior slip and falls caused by the same hazard. Continue reading →

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Florida law places significant roadblocks in the path of individuals who are injured in falls on the premises of a resort, hotel, or other commercial business catering to the public.  Maritime and admiralty law, which governs slip and fall and trip and fall accidents at sea, places special barriers in the path of injury victims who experience such injuries while on a cruise.  When these barriers are combined, the prospects of success without a knowledgeable Miami cruise injury lawyer with a track record of successful judgments and verdicts against the major cruise lines are bleak.  In this two-part blog post, we examine some of the barriers that cruise victims must overcome when pursuing a slip and fall accident claim against a cruise company in the context of examples from actual cases.

Passenger Ticket Contract Restrictions on Passenger Rights

The barriers to pursuing a fall-related injury claim against a cruise line begin when passengers purchase their ticket.  For the typical passenger, their ticket is simply a way to establish they have paid for the right to take part in the cruise.  Few travelers take the time to carefully study the contract on the back of the ticket.  However, the ticket contract constitutes a powerful tool used to shield cruise companies from liability and to induce passengers to limit or extinguish valuable rights.  Key provisions in the passenger ticket contract that slip and fall victims must be aware of include: Continue reading →

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Passengers enjoy cruises for many reasons that include a variety of live entertainment, recreational activities, exciting shore excursions, an abundance of good food, and lots of alcohol.  While alcohol consumption might be a featured part of any cruise for many travelers, intoxication increases a passenger’s vulnerability to hazards.  If you or a loved one is injured after selecting this form of travel, the cruise line will certainly raise alcohol use by a passenger as the cause of many accidents.  What cruise injury victims should keep in mind is that alcohol sales constitute one of the most lucrative sources of profit for cruise lines.  Our cruise accident lawyers know from experience that cruise lines often push alcohol sales at the expense of passenger safety.

In this blog, our Miami cruise injury attorneys review a recent case that examines liability of a cruise line for injuries to intoxicated passengers.  A couple traveling onboard the Carnival Dream were served 22 alcoholic drinks over a period of 12 hours.  Because the couple mostly drank Long Island iced teas, the beverages had a high alcohol content.  Evidence was introduced indicating that the evening the husband suffered his fatal fall, he was obviously intoxicated at dinner though he did not exhibit a loss of coordination or slurred speech.  Later that evening, he tumbled off a stool while sitting at the bar inside the ship’s casino.  The husband and wife purchase a final round of drinks approximately an hour after the fall in the casino.  When the wife went into a club, her husband stayed behind to smoke a cigarette.  The husband ends up heading back to his stateroom where he experienced a fatal fall from the balcony onto a lower deck. Continue reading →

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When parents decide to take their family on a cruise, they do not anticipate their children will be exposed to sexual abuse.  Despite these expectations, you might not learn about such incidents from the cruise company when they occur.  In late January, a cruise employee allegedly enticed a teenage girl into performing a sex act.  According to a report by Local 10 News, a waiter aboard the Holland America cruise ship, MS Veendam, was arrested after he had a 15-year-old girl perform a sex act. The employee was charged with a lewd and lascivious act involving a minor.  The news source learned of the incident and reported it to the public.  The tactics used by the cruise line to avoid disclosing the incident focus attention on the difficult task of determining the risk of being the victim of a crime when deciding to take a cruise.

Our Miami cruise accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano know that most people that schedule a vacation on a cruise anticipate that the cruise company will implement adequate security measures.  Passengers also might be inclined to assume that the cruise line will elect to work with tour and recreation providers that screen their employees and adopt appropriate security practices.  Although these beliefs might seem reasonable, people are victims of crimes like rape, sexual assault, sexual molestation and other offenses on cruises each year.  Because certain cruise lines might be lax regarding security measures and protocols, travelers should investigate the security record of a cruise line before making a choice.  This task is not as easy as it might seem because of crime reporting practices in the cruise industry. Continue reading →

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Cruise ships often accommodate 3,000 guests or more. These massive floating cities have significant security needs.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our cruise ship attorneys understand the critical importance of security cameras on cruise ships. Cruise ships are equipped with pools, casinos, restaurants, and numerous other areas that could pose a threat to passengers.  Cruise ship surveillance provides important benefits, such as:

  • Crime prevention: Surveillance cameras can help to deter crimes, including theft and acts of violence. When crimes occur, footage of the incidents will prove important for prosecution.
  • Missing persons: There have been several cases of missing persons on cruise ships, and cameras are often the only way to trace the missing individual.
  • Accidents: Accidents happen on cruise ships and when they do, camera footage of the accident can be critical to determining the cruise line’s liability.

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In 2011, British crew member Rebecca Coriam seemingly vanished without a trace off the cruise ship Disney Wonder.  To this day, the circumstances surrounding Coriam’s disappearance remain shrouded in mystery.  The Miami cruise ship attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have a combined 130 years of experience representing cruise ship accident victims and their families.  We have assisted in many cases with confusing facts that require intense investigations.  Now, we review the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam and Disney’s role in this missing person case.

Coriam Vanishes

On the morning of March 22, 2011, Rebecca Coriam was in the crew lounge of the Disney Wonder as it sailed off the coast of Mexico.  There, a security camera recorded Coriam taking on the phone. She appeared to become upset.  She hangs up the call and leaves the crew lounge.  From there, she has never definitively been seen again.

When a search of the ship found no Coriam, investigations turned to the waters, presuming she had gone overboard.  A detective from the Royal Bahama Police Force flew in to investigate the disappearance because the ship is registered in the Bahamas.  He spent just one day aboard the ship investigating and flew home.

Theories swirled on Coriam’s disappearance, with the captain speculating that a large wave sent her overboard while at the crew pool. Others suggested she fell on the jogging track and went overboard.  Many believed the Disney and Bahamian police knew more about her disappearance than they were letting on.

Rebecca Coriam’s parents also wondered whether she could still be alive. They received a notice from the bank that someone had tried to access Rebecca’s account several months after her disappearance.  They also received a call from someone who stated they were quite positive they spotted Rebecca in Venice with a dark haired man.  Even further, her Facebook password was changed by someone with details about the account. Continue reading →

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