Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Sinks

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The crash involving Carnival’s Concord Concordia cruise ship that caused the ship to sink spurred multiple lawsuits brought by passengers.  These lawsuits stem from the ship seeking, which claimed the lives of 32 passengers and caused the evacuation of thousands.  Despite the fact the captain of the cruise ship has been convicted of manslaughter, a Florida federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit brought by 57 plaintiffs cannot move forward in the U.S.  In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers analyze the impact of the forum non conveniens litigation strategy used by the cruise line against U.S. passengers harmed in the crash.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami related to injuries and deaths of passengers of the Costa Concordia, which sunk after colliding with a coral reef.near the Italian island of Giglio.  The 3rd DCA dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to a motion filed by the cruise line.  The plaintiffs opposed the motion based on the fact ships owned by the Carnival subsidiary, Costa Crociere, had sailed out of Miami, FL, and 5 of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and about 100 of the 3,200 passengers on board were U.S citizens.  Continue reading →

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Our cruise ship injury lawyers have found the litigation of injury claims against cruise ships can involve complex, procedural rules stemming from the likely multiple jurisdictions involved. At the outset, parties should perform extensive legal and risk analysis to determine the best place to file a suit that would maximize the likelihood of a favorable result, as well as concerns of efficiency. The case below illustrates the procedural hurdles that plaintiffs may need to jump over to begin even litigating injury claims against cruise lines.

This case revolves around the highly publicized cruise ship accident of the MS Costa Concordia. The Concordia was an Italian-flagged vessel that, in 2012, was on a seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy. However, the ship ran aground after its Captain decided to deviate from the set course to do a maneuver, during which the Concordia hit a reef in Italian waters resulting in massive hull damage. The authorities evacuated over three thousand passengers, which included approximately 100 U.S. citizens, and over a thousand crewmembers. After the catastrophe, several passengers filed suit in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida against Carnival Corporation, which does business principally in London, Costa Cruise Lines, which operates out of Florida, Costa Crociere, an Italian corporation, and Joseph Farcus, an architect licensed in Florida. After a series of procedural actions, two groups of passengers refiled two separate actions against the same companies with the same claims. Carnival successfully removed both cases to a federal court and subsequently asked the court to dismiss both cases. The federal court remanded both cases to the 11th Judicial Circuit without resolving Carnival’s motion to dismiss. Continue reading →

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When a violent attack by a crew member or the negligence of a cruise line operator contributes to serious injury to passengers, cruise line patrons can experience intense pain, emotional hardships, permanent disability, and significant financial hardships.  Although every cruise ship accident that results in a serious injury or the death of a passenger or crew member is tragic, these horrific accidents at sea can often prompt new regulations and stricter safety standards.  When cruise lines feel the financial impact of their negligent conduct or failure to act, they have a greater incentive to prevent future illnesses, injuries and loss of life.

The luxury liner the Costa Concordia made international headlines after running aground in 2012.  The tragedy claimed the lives of 32 people among the passengers and crew.  The cruise industry was spurred to take proactive steps to prevent similar tragedies in the future in the wake of negative publicity and substantial liability.  Industry officials formed the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which immediately emerged as the largest trade organization in North America.

When the Costa Concordia ran aground, the force of the impact was so loud that passengers heard the noise.  After a temporary power outage caused by water flooding the engine room, the ship’s captain ordered an evacuation because the cruise liner had begun to list.  The story was widely reported by international media sources because the ship was the largest ever to be abandoned.  Following the cruise ship disaster, the captain was arrested on charges of manslaughter for causing the wreck, failing to be the last to leave the ship, and evading his duty to assist passengers.  He subsequently faced additional charges for failing to provide information to maritime authorities about the scope of the crash and for abandoning incapacitated passengers.

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The wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship was towed to its last port recently, two and a half years after it ran aground and sank, killing 32 people. It took four days to maneuver the 114,500 ton ship from the Tuscan island of Giglio where it ultimately sank. The long journey marks the end of one of the greatest cruise ship disasters of all time and the most complex maritime salvage ever attempted.

The Costa Concordia which now sits in a scrap warehouse was once a beauty of the seas. The first of the Concordia class cruise ships, Costa Concordia was one of the largest ships built in Italy. It offered 13 decks, approximately 1,500 cabins, 505 private balconies, and several spa staterooms. Guests could enjoy the fitness center, gym, thalassotherapy pool, sauna, Turkish bath, and solarium, along with four swimming pools, five Jacuzzis, five spas, two retractable roofs, and a poolside movie theater.
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In February 2013, the Thomson Majesty was in the midst of a seven-day cruise arriving in Santa Cruz de La Palma when it conducted a safety drill involving the 1,498 passengers and 594 crewmembers on board the ship. At the end of the exercise, (which involved instruction regarding how to deal with general emergencies and lifeboat safety), a group of crewmembers entered three lifeboats in order to conduct further safety drills. When one of the lifeboats was being hoisted, the wire rope fall at the forward of the boat failed, leading to a series of events that culminated with the lifeboat falling more than 20 meters into the water with eight crew members onboard. Five crew members died. The safety report was recently released regarding this fatal accident.

Cruise ship accidents take many forms, including tragic events during safety drills. At Greenberg Stone and Urbano, our dedicated Miami cruise ship accident attorneys have more than 120 years of collective experience in getting justice for accident victims, regardless of how they were injured. We are ready to help you as soon as you contact our firm.

The safety report that came out after this terrible incident indicated that the wire rope had failed as a result of corrosion and that the rope appeared void of the necessary lubricant to maintain its strength and effectiveness. The lack of proper maintenance apparently had led to the deterioration of the strands to the point where the strands of the wire rope separated and permitted contaminants and seawater to enter and compromise the structural integrity of the rope. In addition to these problems, the wire rope was not fitted in accordance with the specifications of the manufacturer and the proper lubrication was not utilized during the maintenance that was done. This all should have been detected had proper inspection techniques been used. Passengers take lifeboats and the feeling of security one gets from seeing them in place too much for granted.
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Cruises are one of the world’s most popular vacation options. Each year, over 20,000,000 individuals board a cruise ship, searching for fun and relaxation. The cruise ship industry generates over $37.5 billion for the U.S. economy. Sometimes, however, our Miami cruise ship accident lawyers know how this perfect vacation can go horribly wrong. Since 1979, a total of 55 cruise ships have sunk. One hundred and seventy two passengers have died aboard a cruise ship, and countless others have been injured. Just last week, a “Ferry,” not classified as a “cruise ship,” sank in the waters off South Korea.

This tragic event has already cost the lives of over 100 people ( recovered bodies), many of them 16 & 17 year old high school students on a trip, with about 200 more souls unaccounted for and unfortunately, presumed dead. This avoidable, yet tragic event, in and of itself will account for almost as many lost lives as all the cruise disasters since 1979. Just a short time ago lives were lost and people injured when a Staten Island Ferry in New York crashed into the pier. Further, a string of high profile disappearances aboard cruise ship add to the potential safety issues.

The following is a look at four of the worst cruise disasters of all time. This initial part of our list of cruise ship calamities is both interesting and informative, providing you with insight into what can go wrong on a cruise.

1. Carnival Triumph–just last year, a fire occurred on the Carnival Triumph which knocked out the ship’s propulsion system. The ship, carrying nearly 4,000 passengers and crew from Galveston, Texas, was supposed to embark on a four day fabulous Caribbean adventure. Instead, passengers were stranded aboard the damaged ship for eight days. The ship was left floating in the Gulf of Mexico without power, a working septic system, or air conditioning. Finally, the boat was towed to shore.
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On January 13, 2012, the world watched as a luxury cruise ship collided with a reef off the coast of an Italian island, take on water, and roll onto its side. Thirty-two people were killed in the cruise ship disaster. It was made even worse by the fact that the manner in which the boat capsized and the location made recovery of the ship an engineering nightmare.

Cruise ship accidents and injuries aboard happen with far more frequency than people realize, although they usually are not as dramatic as the Costa Concordia tragedy. If you or a loved one has been injured because of negligence while on a cruise, the Miami cruise accident attorneys of Greenberg Stone and Urbano are ready to fight for your rights and the compensation that you deserve.

More than twenty months after the accident and the deaths of those 32 passengers and crew members, an American salvage company engineered a platform onto which the Costa Concordia was pain-stakingly maneuvered. Two bodies were discovered after the ship was righted and they are believed to be the missing passenger and crew member. It will likely be another year before the Costa Concordia is towed away and broken apart for scrap. For now, it remains a disturbing reminder of the dangers of the cruise ship industry.
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Cruise Ship Blog Pic.jpgThe Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano, frequently posts articles about cruise ship safety and incidents, as our firm has attorneys specializing in cruise ship accidents in the Miami area. Regrettably, this all too familiar news story has surfaced yet again–another safety incident aboard a cruise ship has occurred. This time, it involved Royal Caribbean. On May 27, 2013, a fire broke out on the third deck of the Grandeur of the Seas while it was off the coast of Florida on its way to Cococay, Bahamas. Reports indicate that the fire was discovered at approximately 2:50 a.m. Passengers were directed to various muster stations after the fire broke out. The Grandeur of the Seas requested assistance from the United States Coast Guard. Although declining further comment, the United States Coast Guard did indicate that the fire was a “Class A” fire, which involves solid materials rather than flammable liquids.

According to various reports, Royal Caribbean staff secured the area on the ship affected by the fire and extinguished it using onboard equipment. Passengers were allowed to return to their rooms later in the morning. Photographs of the extent of the damage reflect substantial smoke damage, though the full extent of the damage is not clear in the photographs. What is clear from the photographs is that the smoke damage affected several decks of the ship at the stern area.

Several passengers were treated for medical issues, and passengers report other passengers passing out and vomiting. However, no injuries have been reported. The Grandeur of the Seas was able to sail to Freeport, Bahamas, and docked approximately seven hours after the fire broke out. The remainder of the trip had to be cancelled due to the damage to the ship. All of the 2,224 passengers were flown back from the Bahamas to Baltimore, Maryland, where the ship departed. Royal Caribbean issued a statement that all passengers would receive a full refund and a certificate for a future cruise trip.

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It has been a year since the Costa Concordia disaster. The cruise ship is still lying on its side, half submerged, off the coast of the Italian Island of Giglio. According to popularmecanics.com, the $400 million salvage job, said to be the largest of its kind in maritime history, has been hampered by rough weather and technical difficulties, pushing the plan to re-float the ship from this spring to September of this year. Two companies are working together on this salvage operation: Florida’s Titan and its Italian partner, Micoperi. The two companies plan is to tow the wreck to a shipyard where its owners plan to dismantle it.

Touristic Attraction

The scene of the tragedy where 32 people lost their lives has itself become a touristic attraction, one that almost led to tragedy recently as a group of thrill-seeking tourists had to be rescued when their dinghy almost sunk in the cold waters. Even commercial pilots flying overhead routinely point it out to their passengers. The wreckage has been photographed from space.

Legal Process Continues

The legal process in Italy continues at a very slow pace. The Concordia’s Captain, Francesco Schettino may go on trial later this year together with seven other officers and crew members. The most important development in the legal process is that the Italian authorities said earlier this week, that they would charge the cruise ship’s owner, Costa Crociere, with gross negligence. This new development might have important consequences for Costa Crociere’s corporate parent, Miami based Carnival Cruise Lines.

Another important development is that the United States Coast Guard and the United States National Transportation Safety Board are joining the investigation. However, since the criminal process precedes the civil lawsuits, the full evidence (including the black box recordings) have yet to be fully investigated and disclosed in the civil cases. Until then, the real cause of the accident will not be known.

New Safety Rules

The Cruise Lines International Association, which is a group of 26 major cruise lines, has announced throughout the year the implementation of a series of new safety rules, which ended up being put together into ten new rules:

  1. Bridge access: Access to a ship’s bridge will be limited to crew with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required to minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions.
  2. Consistent bridge procedures: Cruise operators must implement consistent operating procedures on the bridge among ships of different brands owned by the same company
  3. Passage planning: All bridge team members must be briefed on passage planning in advance of implementation, and the plan should be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the captain.
  4. Passenger nationality: This policy requires that the nationality of each passenger on a cruise ship be recorded and made readily available to search-and-rescue staff as appropriate.
  5. Passenger muster: Cruise lines are required to conduct emergency muster drills for embarking passengers before ships leave port, which exceeds the previous requirement of within 24 hours of departure.
  6. Musters and emergency instructions: Member cruise lines agreed on 12 common elements that’ll be communicated to passengers in musters and emergency instructions, including a description of key safety systems and features, location of life jackets and how to recognize emergency exits.
  7. Lifeboat loading training: Crew with responsibility for lifeboats on a large oceangoing ship must practice loading and maneuvering at least one full vessel every six months.
  8. Location of life jackets: Requires life jackets to be stowed near muster stations or lifeboats so they are easily accessible if there’s an emergency.
  9. Excess life jackets: Cruise ships will carry additional adult life jackets, making sure the number is never less than the number of passengers aboard.
  10. Securing equipment: Cruise lines must put in place procedures to secure heavy items such as pianos, treadmills or televisions at all times, either permanently, when not being used or in case of bad weather, to avoid injury.

The International Maritime Organization is considering whether to make these new rules mandatory for all cruise ships.

A Sinking Ship Is Not The Only Danger Faced When Cruising

A sinking ship is not the only danger faced by cruise ship passengers. For example, passengers can also get injured when they slip on a wet floor or trip on a damaged carpet and fall. All kinds of accidents happen during cruise vacations, both on and off the ship. Passengers have suffered injuries while involved in any one of the following land based activities:

  1. Surfing
  2. Scuba diving or snorkeling
  3. Parasailing
  4. Boating
  5. Jet skiing
  6. Hiking
  7. ZIP lining
  8. Excursions on bicycles, on motorbikes or on 4X4 vehicles like Jeeps, etc.

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Almost a year after the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio, the memories of that tragic night still haunt a family from Duanesburg, New York.

Chaos Aboard Sinking Ship

The massive cruise liner sunk after its captain ordered a “salute” to the island of Giglio. A “salute” is an Italian maritime tradition that seems to consist of traveling full speed toward land just to turn about a quarter of a mile offshore and navigate parallel to the coast. However, it appears now that the Costa Concordia was out of position and actually closer to land than its captain, Francesco Schettino, thought it was, when he ordered the stunt.

Consequently, the cruise ship hit the rocky bottom, opening a huge hole on its side that made it list until it sunk, resting on its side off the shore of Giglio. As a result, 32 passengers and crew members lost their lives. Captain Schettino is awaiting trial, charged with manslaughter, abandoning ship before everyone had been evacuated and refusing to go back on the ship after being ordered to do so by the Italian coast guard.

According to timesunion.com, members of the Duanesburg family still remember the chaos on board the sinking ship that night. They remember how confusing orders were given in five different languages (first in Italian, then in Spanish, English, German and French), but none could be heard or understood because of the noise and chaos onboard.

Family Testified Before Congress

The Duanesburg family, wife Joan Fleser, husband Brian Aho and daughter Alana still remember what it felt like to see the sinking ship lean over their tiny lifeboat as they were trying to make it to shore on the Island of Giglio. Once onshore, a local family welcomed them into their home.

The Duanesburg couple is still concerned that the cruise line industry has not done enough to improve safety onboard its ships, despite new rules announced in the wake to the “Costa Concordia” disaster. In March the family attended congressional hearings on cruise safety in Washington, D.C. and were very upset to see that the House Committee was filled with representatives from cruise states who were, obviously, very pro-cruise industry.

Some experts agree with the Duanesburg family, despite the Cruise Line International Association adopting new safety policies such as:

  • Standardizing instructions given to passengers during muster drills;
  • Standardizing procedures on ship bridges within each cruise line;
  • Providing guidance on lifeboat loading for crew training;
  • Urging cruise ship owners to assure course changes are consistent with company policies;
  • Requiring ships to secure heavy objects like pianos and treadmills; and
  • Requiring new ships to store life jackets near lifeboats.

For example, Captain Bill Doherty, Director of Maritime Affairs for Nexus Consulting Group, a security firm based in Virginia says he does not see the need for new enforcement or stiffer regulations. Mr. Doherty, who used to be a safety manager with Norwegian Cruise Lines, says that “ships don’t need more regulations; they need to do what is already required.”
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