Articles Tagged with Royal Caribbean

MIAMI, Florida–This past Monday, almost 3000 passengers boarded Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas for what was expected to be a fun filled vacation, a four-night cruise plying the high seas and traveling to different ports, engaging in all types of shipboard activities and shore side activities at the exotic ports. To their surprise, the first night of their cruise was spent at the port in Cape Canaveral Florida, where they boarded the cruise ship for their vacation! Surely not what the almost 3000 passengers expected when booking this cruise to the Bahamas.

lifevest-300x200What was the reason for the cruise ship being stuck overnight in Cape Canaveral? If you read the statement from the cruise ship company, it sounds like something minor, simply the fact that the United States Coast Guard had determined that there were life jackets on board that had exhausted their life span, and needed to be replaced. Not a big deal? I do believe life vest are critical pieces of safety equipment that we want to be sure will serve the intended purpose if needed. It obviously was a big enough deal for the Coast Guard to halt the leaving of the cruise ship on its intended itinerary until the problem was fixed. Only when the life jackets arrived the next day could the ship then set sail.

One could maybe excuse certain items from not being inspected on a regular basis, and only replaced when necessary. For example, light bulbs or a sofa could probably be replaced once the bulb burns out or the couch’s material wears out, rather than on a regular basis. However, here we are talking about life vests!  One must wonder how often proper inspections are done of all of the critical safety equipment on board the cruise ships that it gets to a point where the Coast Guard refuses to let the cruise ship sail because obviously there are ineffective life vests on board the ship.

wavesWith modern day technology, the cruise ship companies believe they can outmaneuver mother nature, and believe that the fear created by encountering rough seas and rough weather, as well as the unpleasantness and dangers that can result, is not enough to cancel a cruise. I have written many times about cruise ship companies deciding that their mega cruise ships are capable of withstanding storms, and their reluctance to cancel cruises, resulting in passengers being endangered when cruise ships are driven into severe weather, including tropical storms and even hurricanes.

I also have also written about the Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, too many times this year. This includes its decision to navigate into a storm this past February. For some reason Anthem of the Seas had not learned from its mistakes, and again, the ship decided to not to cancel its itinerary despite Tropical Storm Hermine warnings.

Often times, severe weather causes dishes, plates, furniture, and other items to fly across areas on the ship, creating dangers to passengers and crew. Of course, seasickness is also common during encounters with rough weather. There is also the danger of the ship losing power during a storm, and being at the mercy of strong season winds. In extreme cases, ships have sunk during hurricanes because a ship-owner decided to take a chance and outmaneuver a storm as was in the case of El Faro.

lifeguardIn yet another incident involving a passenger emergency in a swimming pool on board a cruise ship, it has been reported that a 72-year-old lady had to be rescued by bystanders (not a trained lifeguard or other cruise line staff) when she appeared in distress while in a swimming pool on board  Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.  The Anthem of the Seas may sound familiar when discussing the need for lifeguards, as this is the second major swimming pool emergency this year involving this ship alone! Just last month, an eight year old boy died after nearly drowning in a pool also on board the Anthem of the Seas.

My firm has repeatedly urged that there be requirements for lifeguards onboard cruise ships, where there are many swimming attractions present.  With the thousands of passengers running around all the time, including children, there are many opportunities for a brief moment of distraction, and for a disaster to occur.  A trained lifeguard is an expert at detecting a problem before it occurs, and of course an expert in responding to an incident if it is not prevented, as a timely response to any type of incident involving an individual in distress in a swimming pool needs immediate professional attention.

Cruise ship companies, including Royal Caribbean, have resisted placing lifeguards on their cruise ships, probably because of the expense.  Of course having lifeguards are more expensive and require cabin space, meaning less cabins to sell to passengers.  Again, profits seem to rule the day in the cruise ship industry.  For many years it has been urged to place stricter regulations on the cruise ship industry, and there has been some progress, but not enough.

fishingboatIn an amazing story, it has been reported that a passenger from Shangai, who fell overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise from Japan to China, has lived to tell the tale. Last Wednesday, August 10th, the 32-year-old woman fell overboard when she leaned too far over a guard railing, falling four decks into the water. This is equivalent to about seven stories. Normally, the fall alone is enough to kill someone. Here is the first miracle; she survived the fall without any injury.

Once overboard, the chances of survival are also very slim, unless the cruise line detects the passenger going overboard promptly. In this case the cruise line did not detect that a passenger had gone overboard, so there were no immediate rescue efforts. Here is the second miracle; she survived 38 hours drifting at sea.

How did this 32-year-old female passenger survive? She reports that she stayed above the ocean water, and swam away from any large vessels she saw, because she was smart enough to know that she could be overcome by the wakes, or sucked into the propellers.  Amazingly, she survived for 38 hours before she was rescued by a fishing boat Friday morning.

cruise poolWe have previously reported about drownings on cruise ships. We believe this is a major problem that needs to be addressed. We have handled too many cruise ship drowning cases that we believe could have been prevented.

The most recent tragedy we have learned of is the near drowning of an 8-year-old boy yesterday evening while on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. According to various news outlets, the boy was found unconscious in one of the ship’s swimming pools, after at least 18 minutes without oxygen. Because additional medical attention was required, the ship altered its course and returned to its New Jersey port. Currently, the child is at Staten Island University Hospital on life support.

Maritime attorney Brett Rivkind previously spoke before the United States Congress on cruise ship safety and security. He urged Congress to closely analyze the cruise ship industry, their self-regulation, the laws that apply to them, and the laws that do not apply to them. Without strong safety legislation, passengers have to rely on the cruise ship industry itself to address many of the safety risks that are present on board these ships. Historically, we believe that this is a terrible method to assure safety for passengers, as the cruise ship companies are worried about their image and their profits. Therefore, safety often gets ignored in favor of profits.

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.

The ship can accommodate up to 6,780 guests in over 2,700 staterooms, which is not including approximately 2,100 workers.  This is more than the population of many cities in America such as Aspen, Colorado and Carmel, California. It makes sense Royal Caribbean is calling its newest cruise ship a “city,” which is divided into seven unique “neighborhoods.”

dunn-300x225A big aspect of the money earned by cruise ships is on shoreside excursions passengers take. Many passengers believe these are run by the cruise line, and the cruise line will stand behind these excursions if there are any problems or accidents. However, many times a passenger is surprised, after having a problem or an accident, to hear the cruise line deny responsibility on the basis that they do not operate the shoreside excursion that the operators are independent contractors, and the cruise ship company has no liability for the negligence of the shoreside excursion company. Since the shoreside excursions occur in foreign countries, the passenger is then left with the prospect of trying to pursue a foreign shoreside excursion company who may not be subject to jurisdiction in the United States, and who may not have any insurance.

However, maritime attorneys knows that he or she can come up with a few theories of liability against the cruise ship company for the shore excursions, including an argument that the cruise ship company should at least be aware of the dangers, if any, and then warn the passengers of these dangers. This is one theory of liability which imposes direct liability on the cruise ship company for negligent failure to warn of dangers. This would require proving that the cruise line knew, or should have known of the dangers, based on past experience with the shoreside excursion company.

In a recent case out of the Southern District of Florida, a passenger filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean  Cruises for an injury suffered when rock climbing in Dunn’s River Falls.

stormI previously wrote about Royal Caribbean cruise line’s decision to navigate the Anthem of the Seas into a storm, exposing the ship, passengers and crews to winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and seas in excess of 30 feet high. The incident resulted in damages to the ship, and reported physical injuries to some passengers and crew. Of course, the emotional damages due to this traumatic event is hard to measure, but apparent.

Another storm appears to be forecasted where the Anthem of the Seas was planning to go. However this time Royal Caribbean has announced it is cancelling the itinerary, to avoid the storm.

As I discussed in my prior blog, cruise lines normally do not cancel area cruise despite a forecasted storm, because they believe they can navigate around the storms, or that the ships are invincible. The decision is usually motivated by a desire to avoid the costs associated with canceling an itinerary. Normally, it is a financial decision that ends up exposing the passengers and crew to risk of injury or death when a cruise ship encounters a storm that was forecasted.

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.

There is a history of cruise ships taking chances by continuing forward on planned itinerary and cruises even though severe weather is forecasted. The cruise ship companies believe that their huge mega size cruise ships can withstand anything, and it is very costly to cancel cruises or change itineraries. Therefore, the cruise ship companies deliberately decide to go forward with their planned itineraries or cruises, and have adopted a mentality that these cruise ships are bulletproof when it comes to rough weather. They take their chances on being able to navigate around a storm, prioritizing profit over the comfort and safety of its passengers and crew members.

shipIt was on July 5, 2005 that George Smith IV disappeared during his honeymoon cruise with his new bride, Jennifer Hagel Smith.

The couple went on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, for a honeymoon cruise. However, disaster struck. The couple met up with a group of passengers they started drinking with, and then mysteriously George Smith was discovered missing.

It was indeed strange and suspicious circumstances. Reports were that Jennifer and George had been drinking, and in fact George had consumed some very strong shots of Absinthe. It was reported Jennifer and George had an argument that evening.

What was discovered next is shocking. There was a report of arguing in the Smith cabin, as if fighting was going on. Sounds of furniture moving was heard by passengers in the next cabin. Reports of a struggle surfaced and security was called. However, security came and left and nothing was discovered at that time.

The next morning Jennifer, who had been taken back to the cabin sometime early in the am, and placed in the bed (she was discovered passed out somewhere else on the ship), and George was not there. Jennifer didn’t think much of George not being there and went to a beauty salon appointment that morning.
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