Articles Tagged with Norwegian Cruise Lines

It was reported that a 45-foot fishing boat was hit by what is called a rogue wave, causing the boat to start sinking off the coast of Maine. Fortunately Coast Guard rescued the fisherman, and nobody died as a result of this incident.

wave3-300x199Rogue waves are not unknown to the maritime world. There is in fact a saying that the sea is a “harsh mistress” that can develop powerful waves and wind, and is able to cause much harm to vessels and structures. However, vessels should be prepared for this type of rough weather based on modern day equipment, which is able to provide up to date forecasts of the seas, and when conditions that the vessel plans on encountering may be rough.

Cruise ships will often times plot their voyage itineraries based on tracked weather forecasts, and make adjustments during the voyage based on up-to-date weather reports that are constantly being provided to the vessel. The wind and sea are critical to monitor in order to provide for a reasonably safe and comfortable voyage. However, captains must be trained to guard against unexpected adjustments in the weather, as well as unexpected sea conditions, which often happens due to various reasons.

MIAMI, Florida–While there are many unique safety hazards presented from operating a floating city on the high seas, the most recent one we have heard about involve deceit at onshore stores recommended by the cruise line. As cruise ship companies have increased in size over the years, so has the addition of many more shipboard activities, meaning more additional safety risks. In addition, the cruise ship companies have attracted more people on their cruises by advertising the exotic ports the ship travels to, where different types of dangers may be lurking.

money-300x225This means that there are many different safety concerns with respect to both on board activities as well as onshore activities at the different ports the cruise ships travel to that those planning on taking a cruise should be aware of.

In two different situations on two different cruise ship companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line, two passengers were told to go to a particular jewelry store at one of the ports, giving them false sense of confidence in the shop and the products being sold. Before going onshore, the passengers were given shopping lectures and a map identifying the stores the cruise ship company highly recommended to be the best deals and highest quality. The cruise ship passengers assumed, like any passenger would, that the cruise lines wanted to protect their interests and went to the recommended stores.

lifeboatThere is a big problem with rescue boats and lifeboats on board cruise ships. Although they are designed and intended to save lives, they too often result in losing lives due to mechanical failures. I previously reported about the tragic incident on the Norwegian Breakaway that occurred on July 20, 2016 in Bermuda. During a rescue boat drill on board the ship, the lifeboat broke from its tethering, falling into the sea. It has sadly been reported that another crew member, Ben Buenaventura of the Philippines, has died as a result of this tragic lifeboat accident. The crew member, after being in the intensive care at Jackson Memorial Hospital here in Miami Florida, passed away from his injuries.

The lifeboat on the Norwegian Breakaway crashed 50 feet from the upper deck into the seas. Under the maritime law, this constitutes unseaworthiness because obviously a rescue boat or lifeboat does not break away and fall 50 feet to the ocean if it is operated properly and in proper condition, unless there is a faulty design.

I have handled many of these types of lifeboat cases resulting in injuries that were not life-threatening, to catastrophic injuries such as paralysis, to cases resulting in death. These cases typically involve a life boat safety drill with crew members on board the life boats. However, these are the same boats that would be used to evacuate passengers in the case of a serious incident on board a cruise ship. Therefore, it is very alarming that there are so many reported accidents involving lifeboats and rescue boats on board cruises. There is clearly something wrong with the design of these boats, and the mechanisms utilized to lower and raise them. Of course, maintenance issues as well as procedure is often times an issue.

lifeboatLifeboats are obviously designed to save lives, not to take lives. However, I have sadly represented numerous crew members who have been catastrophically injured or killed during a lifeboat or rescue boat safety drill, when the boat has broken from the wires lifting or lowering the boat, or there has been a failure of the mechanism used to lift and lower the boats.

The recent catastrophic incident happened on the Norwegian Breakaway, a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship. It is ironic that the name of this ship is Breakaway because the life boat broke away from its tethering and plummeted to the water. According to reports, on July 20, four male crew members were onboard a lifeboat during a routine safety drill when the boat fell into the water. The accident, which occurred  while the ship was docked in Bermuda, left all four crew members injured. One of the crew members, Diogenes Carpio, was found floating in the water with several broken bones. He passed away at the hospital shortly after. Exact details as to why this tragedy occurred are still unclear.

I have seen a problem with the mechanism on the lifeboats, including what is called the limit switch, which is supposed to stop the raising of the boat at a certain point in order to avoid stress on the wire cables. I have also seen these type of incidents occur due to lack of appropriate maintenance, including lack of proper inspections of the lifeboats and their apparatus. I know one cruise line has recognized the need for a fleet-wide change of the type of apparatus utilized to raise and lower the lifeboats or rescue boats. It is unfortunate that it takes a death or serious injury in order to get the cruise line to pay sufficient attention to such an important life-saving device.

deckI was saddened to learn of another tragic incident involving a drowning onboard a cruise ship. This particular drowning involved a 10 year old girl who was with her family onboard a Norwegian cruise ship, the Norwegian Gem, for what was supposed to be a fun filled vacation lasting 7 days. The cruise ship left from New York and was heading to Myrtle Beach at the time of the drowning.

Shipboard medical personnel was unable to resuscitate the 10 year old girl and she died onboard the cruise ship. What a tragic incident for the family! It’s hard to imagine going on a cruise and losing a loved one during the cruise. The exact circumstances surrounding the drowning are unknown at this time. However, there has been a lot of debate about whether lifeguards should be present at the pools on cruise ships. The major cruise ship companies do not utilize lifeguards. Disney Cruise Lines is the only cruise line company known to utilize lifeguards.

Lifeguards are trained not only to respond to a drowning incident but to anticipate a drowning situation about to develop, and take appropriate precautions to avoid a drowning, and avoid having to attempt to resuscitate someone. It is the prevention portion that is critical, and this should mandate that lifeguards be present onboard the cruise ships. There are many water attractions on cruise ships, with thousands of passengers onboard, making it is easy to lose track of a young child.

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