Articles Tagged with Celebrity Cruises

br-pic-300x224I previously wrote about the tragedy involving a Mexican tour bus that flipped over while transporting Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ship passengers to the Mayan ruins, and have recently spoken on both Channel 10 and CBS news regarding the safety of shore excursions. The cruise ship passengers involved in this tragic accident were on an excursion they had purchased from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. Typically, as was also seen in this case, the cruise lines promote the different shore excursions, profited from its sales, and urge its passengers to purchase the excursion directly from them rather than any independent company. It is also typical that passengers believe that that the cruise lines have performed a thorough vetting process for the shore excursions, and that their safety is backed by the cruise company. The passengers reasonably believe the cruise ship company would be responsible for recovery against the cruise ship company under various maritime legal theories, depending on the facts and circumstances.

The initial report about the cause of the accident in Mexico is that the driver was speeding. I believe that was apparent based on the fact that the bus flipped over in clear daylight with good weather conditions, and that there were no other vehicles involved. The real questions are going to be the root causes, as I refer to them. It is vital to get down to the root causes as to why something like this happened, killing and injuring many cruise ship passengers. The questions then become why was the driver speeding, and what was the condition of the bus, the safety history of the company, and the history of that particular driver, among other things. It is my opinion that the root causes will lead back to actions or inactions on the part of the cruise ship company, who should be held liable for these serious injuries and deaths.

Our shore excursion accident lawyers at Rivkind and Margulies are currently working on a similar accident involving a tour bus that turned over in New Zealand during an excursion with cruise ship passengers from the same cruise ship company. The excursion company involved had a poor safety history record including a prior accident which prompted a criminal investigation, in spite of the fact that the cruise ship company had represented in its literature that they were using only the highest quality transportation services for the excursions they provided.

On Tuesday, at least 12 people died and 18 were injured when a tour bus carrying Royal Caribbean and Celebrity passengers crashed on an excursion to the Mayan ruins in Mexico. It was one of the deadliest cruise ship shore excursion accidents to have taken place. Ironically, I was interviewed by NBC news last Thursday about the dangers present when going on cruise ships and the obstacles to legal recovery when harm befalls a passenger traveling on a cruise.

cancun-300x226One of the cases we discussed is the case I am currently handling against Celebrity Cruises involving a horrible tour bus crash that occurred during a cruise-sponsored shore excursion in New Zealand. Celebrity promoted, marketed and sold tickets for this shore excursion, and even represented to the passengers that the cruise ship company only used the highest quality transportation services during the excursion. Our lawsuit claims that the bus driver was speeding and changing lanes frequently, and that the bus was poorly maintained and in bad condition, resulting in a horrible accident where the bus plummeted 100 ft. down a steep bank, severely injuring its passengers. Fortunately, no one was killed. After the accident, it was discovered that the transportation company employed by Celebrity had a poor safety record- a very similar prior accident resulting in a criminal prosecution due to an incompetent mechanic and faulty brakes.

In my interview, I discussed how shore excursions pose a potential danger to the millions of passengers who sail on cruise ships operating out of Miami, as the shore excursions take place in foreign countries where the passengers have no knowledge as to the safety record of the particular shore excursion company the cruise ship company is promoting and selling tickets for. I also discussed how the cruise ship company attempts to avoid liability for any of the incidents that happened during a shore excursion, typically arguing that the shore excursion companies are independent contractors. The lawsuit I filed on behalf of the injured passengers alleges various claims under several legal theories to defeat this argument and legally hold Celebrity Cruises responsible for such an incident. It is one of the intricate aspects of maritime law that an experienced maritime attorney needs to navigate carefully in order to obtain recovery for the passengers.

In a bizarre situation, two cruise ship passengers onboard the luxury cruise ship the Reflection, operated by Celebrity Cruises, claimed that they were robbed of their winnings they accrued over two nights in the casino aboard the ship. Their winnings were actually quite astounding, totaling $1,030,000.00. The passengers stated they took the money to their staterooms after cashing in, and approximately an hour after they left, one of the passengers alleged he was attacked and robbed by two of the ship’s officers aboard the cruise ship, and $430,000.00 in cash was taken from the passenger who had put this money in the cabin safe. The other passenger became aware that his friend had been allegedly robbed and he was able to escape his cabin with the remaining $600,000.00 in profits earned at the casino.

Port authorities were summoned as the ship docked in Piraeus, Greece, and the two ship officers were arrested. The police found $430,000.00 in their possession.

casino-300x200Was this simply a case of two crew members deciding to rob these passengers who seemed to have hit the lottery in the cruise ship casino? Not so fast! The officers allege that they were acting in accordance with instructions and procedures from the company on the grounds that they were retrieving the money because it had been acquired fraudulently. The cruise ship passengers claim the money was won in a legitimate way. However, the officers claim the money was won by these two passengers utilizing illegal techniques, thus fraudulently acquired. According to the officers, the cruise ship company was taking back the money fraudulently acquired, which was their basis for going into the cabin and taking the money from the passenger.

Many times, there are dangers associated with the shore excursions unknown to the passengers, which could include dangers created by the shore excursion company due to poor safety practices, or dangers created by the areas the shore side excursion companies take their passengers to. In a recent case in the Southern District of Florida, a passenger was injured while participating in a zip-line shore excursion in the Dominica. During the zip-line activity, the passenger was seriously injured when she crashed into padding attached to a tree.

zip-line-222x300The passenger filed suit in the Southern District of Florida and alleged the various theories of liability in an attempt to hold the cruise ship company liable, including the argument that the company was negligent in failing to keep the zip-line in a safe condition, and that the dangerous condition that caused the accident established that it was a company that did not comply with safety regulations that applied to the type of activity involved. The argument being that the cruise ship company knew or should have known of this fact, and therefore should not have sold the ticket for this particular excursion, and that the cruise line should have warned the passengers about the unsafe operation of the zip-line activity.

In the decision, the court quoted testimony from the cruise line which discussed the reasons for selecting this particular company. The cruise line stated that the company worked with other cruise ship companies, it had been in business for some time, and that they were unaware of any prior accidents similar to what happened to the passenger in this particular case. The court concluded, based on the evidence, that there was no reason for the cruise ship company to have known of any dangers associated with the zip-line operation, and that the cruise ship company reasonably relied upon the history of this company operating the zip-line activity and the lack of prior accidents. The court rejected the argument that there was a known danger that the cruise ship companies should have warned about. The court also rejected all the other theories of apparent agency, joint venture, negligent hiring and negligent retention.

MIAMI, Florida–Another tragic incident during a shore excursion on a United States-based cruise ship company has again demonstrated the safety risks involved when booking a shore excursion, even if booked through the cruise ship company, and even if the cruise ship company had represented that the tour was safe and operated by a reputable company. In this recent case, a bus transporting 31 Celebrity Solstice cruise ship passengers, who were a part of the “Farm Wine and Cheese – Sheep Farm and Dog Show” shore excursion, which involved visiting New Zealand farm life and tasting its produce, plunged down a steep bank after colliding with another car on the Akaroa Peninsula. According to reports, the crash left eight people injured, some very severely, who were all taken to the hospital. Of the eight injured, six of them were Celebrity cruise ship passengers from the United States. The most severe injuries were two of the United States passengers who remain in the hospital, two days after the crash. The Celebrity Cruises has since resumed its 13-day trip around New Zealand, arriving in Dunedin yesterday.

akaroa-300x199We have been seeing many reported incidents involving shoreside excursions in foreign countries, where safety laws may be very different from United States safety laws, and the port excursion operators may not be as accountable as tour operators in the U.S. are, therefore not making safety the primary focus of these operators. It seems the operators want to get money from these U.S.-based cruise ship companies by making deals with them, resulting in the cruises selling these excursions, and then sharing in the ticket sales. It becomes a profitable item for both the shore excursion company and the cruise ship company.

But the question is how safe are these shoreside excursions? Most passengers believe that shore excursions are in some way operated by the cruise ship company. At the very least, most passengers rely on the cruise ship company’s expertise in the industry to have adequately investigated and vetted the company and the excursion. In fact, cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean cruise line, owner of Celebrity Cruises, has the following on their shore excursion brochure, which can be found on their website, as one of the reasons to book a shore excursion through them, giving the impression that they have only selected the safest and most reliable excursion companies:  “Discover the heart of the destinations with our knowledgeable and experienced guides. Your excursions are planned by insured partners who adhere to the highest safety standards in the industry.” However, selecting the safety and most reliable excursion companies is clearly not always the case, as we are reading more and more incidents that happened due to some type of danger that the cruise ship company knew about or should have known about if they had done a proper investigation.

MIAMI, Florida–We have recently heard of two separate tragedies resulting from two separate excursions in New Zealand. When signing up for a shore excursion in a foreign country, we do not always consider the fact that the country we are in for the day may not have the same type of laws and safety protocols we are used to. We also do not consider that if something does happen to us during a shore excursion in a foreign country, what recourse we may have against the wrongdoer. As an American citizen abroad, we may in fact have limited ability to obtain justice against a wrongdoer whose negligence causes us harm.

newzealand-300x225These tragedies occurred during tours organized for the passengers on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship that was docked for the night in New Zealand on November 22, 2016.  The first incident involved a tour bus full of cruise ship passengers crashing into a driver of a Mazda. The driver died as a result. The second incident involved a 71-year old cruise ship passenger on a cycle tour who was hit by a truck. She also died as a result of the accident.  Although injuries and deaths are not unusual during a shore excursion, as we have recently reported of another tragic accident on a shoreside excursion in the Dominica, two deaths on the same day from two different excursions is very unusual.

We understand that there is a risk of being hit by a car anywhere, and also, simply because there are risks associated with taking a cruise that travels internationally across the high seas, does not mean in any way that we suggest you do not take a cruise. Going on a cruise is a great way to spend a vacation, to relax, and to have fun. There are numerous activities both on board the cruise ship, and at the different ports the cruise ship visits.

congresI’ve been handling maritime cases, mainly cases involving claims against the cruise ship companies involving all types of incidents, including sexual assaults, disappearances, slip and fall accidents, shoreside excursion problems, medical negligence, both for passengers and crew members, for over 30 years now.

When I first started doing litigation involving the cruise ship industry I realized how secretive the cruise lines were able to keep the problems aboard cruise ships. The cruise ship industry had been very successful in sweeping under the carpet major incidents that were occurring aboard the ship, including sexual assaults and other crimes.

The cruise ship industry grew enormously, and the ships continued sailing on the high seas, and the public relations departments for the different cruise lines worked hard to develop and maintain the image of carefree cruising, with nothing to worry about or be concerned about.

As incidents of crimes, especially sexual assaults, began to increase, and the industry blossomed, it then became too difficult to conceal all that was happening on the cruise ships.

Then came the disappearance of George Smith in 2005 during his honeymoon cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship the Brilliance of the Seas. This high profile case was the beginning of a movement for positive legislative changes to require the cruise ship industry to become more transparent.
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She was only 49-years-old. Christina Cassin was with her husband Scott Turco during an 11-day cruise onboard the Celebrity passenger cruise ship the Equinox.

The Equinox docked in Cozumel on March 28th.

The husband stated: “We went for a group dive. At some point I turned to the dive master to tell him she was going to the surface and when I turned back towards her, she was gone.”

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