Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Law and News

MIAMI, Florida–The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released their findings regarding the horrible parking job by the captain of the passenger cruise ship Carnival Pride on May 8, 2016, when the cruise ship collided into the pier and an elevated passenger walkway in Baltimore, Maryland. The crash resulted in more than two million dollars in damages.  The Carnival Pride was returning from a 7-day trip to the Bahamas and Florida when this happened.

baltimore-300x225Although we were thankful to report that there were no personal injuries resulting from the collision with the pier, it did raise eyebrows and questions as to why the cruise ship did collide with the pier, with the expert navigation staff onboard and of course the most sophisticated navigation equipment.

MIAMI, Florida–Royal Caribbean Cruise lines is now the second cruise lines to step up to the plate and implement the use of lifeguards at their swimming attractions. I commend them for this move, even though there has been reluctance in the past to do so. We have written numerous times about tragic drownings that have occurred on board cruise ships in the swimming pools scattered throughout these mega cruise ships, mostly involving small children. In fact, in the last three years we have heard about at least four other drownings on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. This does not include the other cruises, in which we have also heard about multiple drownings occurring in the past few years on board their ships. Although the cruise ship companies seem to feel that a simple warning sign about swimming at your own risk is sufficient safety precautions for their cruise ships, Disney Cruise lines had previously been the only cruise ship company to step up to the plate and utilize lifeguards on board their ships, and even at their private island.

lifeguard-1363200-300x225It’s about time Royal Caribbean has employed lifeguards, becoming only the second major cruise line in the world to have lifeguards. We have learned from recent news reports that all the lifeguards hired by Royal Caribbean will be licensed and trained through StarGuard elite. In addition to employing lifeguards, the cruise line plans on implementing a few more water safety updates to their ships, specially targeted towards young cruise passengers. This includes signs reminding parents that they have swim vests available for young children and there will also be a water safety presentation during the orientation of the Adventure Ocean kids program.

I have reported in the past on the many dangers present on cruise ships such as the risk of being the victim of a sexual assault or some other type of crime. I have also reported on the potential dangers of shore excursions, which take passengers to unknown areas in different foreign countries, that present risks unknown to passengers, as well as the dangers involved in activities onboard cruises that have exploded with the addition of fancy water parks, zip lines, rock climbing walls, surfing pools, and many other activities historically developed for land based parks and recreational areas, which have created many challenges, including having the proper set up on the high seas, proper personnel with the proper training, and just plain old general safety control over these activities. Now, in recent developments, breathing can be a danger on cruise ships?

breath-192x300A recent study by a German environmental association, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), concluded that a passenger can be subjected to more toxins on a cruise ship than on land. The German association published their findings on a French documentary TV series after a journalist secretly went onboard a cruise ship and took samples of the air. After testing the air quality, they found that the concentration of harmful particles was 20 times worse than it would be in a crowded city.  According to NABU, the air quality was a result of bad fuel and filters on board the ships.

On Friday January 6th, a passenger who traveled on an airplane to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, picked up his luggage at baggage claim, went into the bathroom and removed a firearm from his checked bag, and then proceeded to start shooting people in the passenger baggage area. The shooting resulted in five people killed, and six others injured. The shooting suspect is a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran named Esteban Santiago.

file000728465303-300x225While this tragedy is another example of needless deaths caused by some psychotic troubled individual, it would normally not be an incident discussed on a maritime news blog. However, this incident actually ended up having a direct impact on the cruise ship industry. Four of the passengers killed at the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting were about to go on a cruise. Cruise ships were also delayed in their departures. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas, Carnival Conquest, Holland America’s Eurodam and Coral Princess left several hours later than they were supposed to. The mood aboard the ships was also affected, as many of the passengers had either witnessed or heard about the deadly attack.

MIAMI, Florida– 2017 is approaching which means that cruise ship giants Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises will soon be taking their cruise ships to Cuba. Two of Royal Caribbean’s ships, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, are scheduled to set sail around late April. All three of Norwegian’s ships, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Ocean Cruises, are scheduled to start sailing to Cuba in May.

cuba-300x225In fact, on Tuesday Norwegian Cruise Line opened up its bookings for its four-day trip to Cuba starting May 1 on the Norwegian Sky. The Norwegian Sky is the biggest United States ship to make its way to Cuba holding 2,004 passengers. Additionally, according to recent reports, the Norwegian Sky is the cheapest cruise ship to Cuba out there at the moment. The Norwegian Sky is scheduled to make five trips to Cuba in May, leaving from the Port of Miami.

MIAMI, Florida–In alarming news, Princess Cruise Lines, owned by Carnival Corporation, plead guilty to seven felony charges arising as a result of illegal dumping of oil into the ocean. This is not the first time a cruise line has been found guilty of illegally dumping oil into the ocean and covering it up. In fact, Carnival, was previously guilty of dumping oil into the ocean and covering it up. A huge fine was assessed back in the late 1990s against Carnival. Other cruise ship companies, including Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, have also been guilty of oil dumping and cover up. These major cruise lines have felony convictions, so they should be referred to as felons, with the associated cloud over their credibility that is justified from being a felon.

enchantment-of-the-seas-panama-thumb-450x321-14364-300x214An engineer involved in the operation for Princess Cruises resulting in another huge fine of $40 million dollars, summed up the motivation behind violating international laws and covering up the violations: “It cost too much to properly dispose of oil waste.” Apparently, the cruise line puts profits ahead of the environment, disregarding international laws and covering up their actions, while polluting the waterways. Can we trust these convicted felons when they tell the public their cruise ships are safe when in fact there are in fact a number of reported sexual assaults and disappearances happening on cruise ships?

Despite growing awareness of cruise ship incidents, including sexual assaults, fires, disappearances, and a host of other problems, an article in the Miami Herald indicates that the cruise ship industry here in Florida is booming.big-ship-300x225 The article reports how major cruise lines are bringing the biggest cruise ships in history to the ports in both Port Everglades, Florida and Miami, Florida. This includes Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, Holland America’s ms Koningsdam,and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer.

This brings us to the question of whether these mega cruise ships are better than the average-size cruise ships. Is bigger really better? The larger cruise ships will provide a lot more variety as to entertainment, restaurants, and other activities, as well as increased profits to the cruise lines. However, how safe are these huge cruise ships out in the high seas with thousands of passengers and thousands of crew members? What happens in the case of a fire or other disaster where an evacuation must take place? I do not believe anyone has forgotten the images of the Costa Concordia lying on its side in Italy after striking rocks, causing it to capsize. The evacuation process after this happened was a mess. There were many deaths and injuries, with the incident being compared to the Titanic. Although what happened on the Costa Concordia was a rare incident, it does highlight the issue of how safe these new humongous cruise ships really are.

portThree years and a billion dollars later, the world’s largest cruise ship began its inaugural season from Barcelona, Spain, which will be the ship’s homeport during its Mediterranean voyages this summer. In November, Harmony of the Seas is scheduled to reposition to its permanent homeport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Harmony of the Seas is a larger and more improved version of its sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. At 1,188 feet long and 227,000 tons, Harmony of the Seas is actually longer than the height of Eiffel Tower.18 decks, 20 different restaurants, a 10-story water slide Royal Caribbean is calling the “tallest at sea,” and 20 other water attractions, including a water park, are just some of the new features this ship has to offer.

rough-day-1380234The attached article discusses the recent adventure with the Anthem of the Seas, a large passenger cruise ship owned and operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The cruise ship company decided to head into an area where weather forecasts predicted severe weather. The cruise ship encountered winds as high as those of a category five hurricane. The ship encountered 30 foot waves. The ship’s propulsion system was damaged.

Obviously, although the cruise ship survived intact, and the more than 4500 passengers returned safely other than the ordeal they had been put through by the ship being navigated into such severe weather, there was a significant risk the passengers and crew were subjected to. A CNN report  indicated that Senator Bill Nelson in Florida has demanded an investigation into why the cruise line headed into the storm and hopefully there will be a magnifying glass on the decision and not simply an acceptance of the typical argument by the cruise line that the storm simply worsened unexpectedly.

cruise floridaToday an article in the Miami Herald discussed a recent study released by the Cruise Lines Industry Association, which highlighted the effects of the cruise line industry on Florida, home to the three busiest ports in the country: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Cape Canaveral. Florida received over one-third in direct cruise ship industry spending of the 21 billion dollars spent nationwide in 2014, amounting to about 8 billion dollars. This is an 8.4 percent increase from the dollar value of direct spending in 2013. According to the article, direct spending encompasses spending by the passenger, crew and the actual cruise line, which includes $7.02 billion in wages, $17.04 billion on food, beverage and other cruise line spending, and about $4 billion spent by the passengers and crew.

The article also discussed the worldwide increase in passengers over the past decade and anticipated that number to increase to 23 million by the end of this year. This influx is based on a variety factors including new ports, new destinations, new cruise products, new onboard activities and new ships.