Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Safety

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Yes, a corporation can be found guilty of a crime, not just an individual. Often times, while representing an individual in a case against the cruise ship company to recover for injuries suffered by a passenger or crew member, the cruise ship defense attorneys will ask if the plaintiff has ever been convicted of a felony. This evidence is relevant in the case because it has been determined that any felony convictions involving dishonesty are relevant to the credibility of the individual. In this instance, it is a corporation, Carnival Corporation, who is the convicted felon. Carnival was convicted in 2016 for environmental crimes on the Princess cruise ships under their umbrella and ended up paying $40 million as part of a guilty plea, plus they were placed on a 5 year probation. It was not the first conviction for Carnival Corporation for dumping oily waste into the ocean. It was actually the third conviction for the same crime of dumping oily waste into the ocean since 1998! Hard to believe, but true!

In the recent charges of violating its probation, Carnival Corporation reached a deal with prosecutors regarding the charges, which included dumping plastic into Bahamian waters and then falsifying records. Clearly acts involving dishonesty! In fact, federal court judge Patricia Seitz is so concerned with the violation of the probation and this continued conduct that she has required Carnival Corporation executives, including chairman Mickey Arison, as well as the president Arnold Donald, to appear before her on June 3rd. It will be interesting to see how the judge addresses this convicted felon who persists in this illegal conduct.

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Many people do not know that Carnival Cruise Lines, the largest cruise ship company in the world, is actually a convicted felon. In 2016, the Miami-based Carnival Corporation, pled guilty to 7 felony charges in relation to an eight yearlong conspiracy of illegally dumping oil and covering up the illegal activity. Carnival paid a $40 million fine as a result, which was the largest ever criminal penalty assessed for the deliberate violation of vessel pollution laws. In addition to this fine, Carnival was placed on 5 years of probation.

Carnival, which reported a profit of $3.2 billion in the year 2018, has been found  to still have ships that are illegally discharging sewage, gray water, oil, and food waste in the year after they were convicted of illegal dumping and lying to authorities. The massive cruise line has also  been found to have burned heavy fuel oil imports and waters close to the shores around the world, which are all illegal.

News outlets have reported that an American passenger aboard Holland America’s cruise ship the Maasdam  died when she fell overboard while attempting to board a tender, which is a small boat used to transport the cruise ship passengers to land, while the ship was sailing in the South Pacific.  The passenger was 70 years old.

blog-cruise-300x203It was reported the passenger was conscious when she was initially recovered from the water, but lost consciousness soon thereafter and never recovered. Holland America would not confirm the cause of the fall, but a case like this involving a death on a cruise ship will prompt a full and complete investigation by authorities, as well as an internal investigation on the part of the cruise ship company. It is interesting to note that when the cruise ship company conducts their internal investigations regarding a serious accident like this, which they must do by both international law and internal policy when an incident occurs, they will not share the results of the investigation with the public nor with the victim or the victim’s family.  Rather they will claim it as their own personal work product and as privileged from disclosure. Continue reading ›

Our case, L.A., a minor, by and through his mother, natural Guardian and next friend, T.A., vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD., is getting national attention regarding the U.S. District Court  for the Southern District of Florida’s order denying Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. The case involves a 13-year-old boy who was on board the Independence of the Seas, a  Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship, with his mother and brother.

Our client, along with a group of friends, was peacefully sitting and talking in a public library under the watchful eye of surveillance cameras. His mother and older brother believed the 13-year-old to be safe, as he was instructed to only converse with his group of friends and to remain in the public space. The family had read about the cruise ship company’s great safety and security record and felt safe under the hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the ship. Like most passengers, she never thought that her child would be at risk for a sexual assault aboard the cruise ship.

I recently read an interesting article discussing a major threat to cruise ship safety. The article discusses that although fires on board a cruise ship have always been considered the major risk while at sea, flooding has also become become a major risk to the safety of those on board a cruise. In fact, according to the article, flooding has actually caused the most serious incidents on cruises. Cutting-edge technology is critical, as the NAPA experts consulted in the article discuss. NAPA provides solutions for ship design and function through software installation. Its software is in fact used to design all new boats. Its goal is to improve safety in the maritime industry. NAPA’s simulations are used as the basis for safety regulations.

cruise-300x191Because fires had been historically considered the major risk while at sea, for the last 30 years there has been technology at the bridge of the cruise ship that shows the location of a fire that occurs on the ship so it can be immediately attacked. The article discusses that previously there was not any technology that identified the source of flooding if that became an issue on board the cruise, which is why flooding has become such a safety threat.   New technology developed by NAPA is now available which will identify the exact source of the flooding, enabling a much quicker response to the problem. Without this software, there was no way to identify the source of the flooding.

PART ONE

It was in 2005 that I first appeared before Congressional Hearings to address cruise ship safety and security.  I was invited to testify as a Maritime expert to assist the members of Congress in addressing safety concerns onboard cruise ships, and answer questions related to the type of problems most prevalent on cruise ships, and what laws govern the cruise ship industry when something does happen to a United States passenger.  At the Congressional Hearings, several victims on cruise ships also testified, including victims of sexual assaults, and other crimes.

PART TWO

The most recent legislation Congress has introduced is called the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which would also amend the Death on the High Seas Act, an outdated law that denies family members the right to recover intangible damages for the loss of their loved ones due to negligent and wrongful death when the death occurs on a cruise ship in international waters.  Intangible damages are the type of damages that compensate family members for the grief, mental anguish, loss of comfort and companionship of their loved ones who are killed due to the wrongful conduct of another.

We previously reported about another instance of a major cruise line absolutely disregarding the law, and attempting to cover up their intentional violation of international laws involving contaminating the waterways. This past Wednesday, a United States District Judge sentenced Princess Cruise Lines, owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, to pay $40 million dollars in penalties, which is the largest penalty ever imposed for crimes involving deliberate pollution by a vessel of the waterways.  Princess Cruise Lines, as other major cruise lines have in the past, was found to have illegally dumped overboard oil contaminated waste, and then attempted to cover up the violations by falsifying official records.

gavel-300x200As I have stated before, intentionally disregarding the law, and lying to authorities in order to cover up the violations, is not a first to the cruise ship industry. In the past, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line pled guilty to felony charges of also illegally polluting the waterways and falsifying official records to cover up the violations of the laws. In this most recent example of another major cruise line disregarding the law and lying to authorities, U.S. District Judge also ordered that $1 million be paid to the British engineer aboard the Princess Cruise ship who first exposed the illegal dumping of waste into the waterways.  He initially reported the illegality to the British maritime and Coast Guard Agency, who then provided the evidence to the United States Coast Guard.

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.

This past Friday the United States Overseas Security Advisory Council, managed by the U.S. State Department, posted warnings for United States citizens traveling to Nassau, Bahamas. It is well known that the Bahamas is a popular destination for cruise ships to take their passengers.  Over the years, I have written about the dangers of shore excursions in foreign countries, that cruise ship companies promote and sell tickets to.  Many passengers traveling to these foreign ports have no knowledge whatsoever about the potential dangers that exist at each of the ports.  Although the cruise ship companies point out that every city has dangers of crime and other problems, the fact is that these smaller ports have known dangers that the cruise ship companies know about, or should know about. However, the cruise lines fail to post warnings or inform passengers about these dangers because of how this will impact their whole persona of a fun filled cruise vacation, which includes these exotic foreign ports.

nassau-300x225The dangers that exist at some of these exotic foreign ports include known criminal activity.  For example, in this posting by the United States Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security, there is a warning about participating in jet ski operations in certain islands in Nassau because of the known danger of being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators.  This would surely be something that a passenger would not know, but clearly is obtainable information for the cruise lines. Cruise ship companies should be charged with investigation into each of the ports that they take the passengers to, in which they enjoy hefty profits by selling shoreside excursions in these foreign ports.