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Drowning on Cruises: 10-Year-Old Girl Drowns on Norwegian Gem

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

This week, our Miami passenger cruise ship attorneys are saddened to learn of the drowning death of a ten-year-old New York girl aboard the Norwegian cruise ship Gem. We send our sincere condolences to her family.

The Gem had departed from New York for a seven-day cruise to Florida and the Bahamas.  The ship was positioned about 75 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the Coast Guard was alerted.  The Gem was then sent to Port Canaveral, Florida, where it arrived last Monday. As of today, over a week since the incident, very little is yet known about how the child died.

According to NCL,

… the ship’s medical team responded to an emergency call from the pool deck, as a ten-year-old female guest was reported unresponsive. The team quickly administered CPR and full emergency care. After extensive efforts, the guest could not be revived.

Increased Number of Children Drowning on Cruises

As lawyers who sue cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Celebrity, we have seen an increased number of drownings and near drownings of children on cruises.  Sadly, this is not the first time a child has drowned aboard this very ship. Just last year, there were two tragic cases on the same NCL Gem.  A four-year-old boy drowned to death, and his six-year-old friend was med-evaced off the ship by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Earlier this year, a four-year-old Italian boy nearly drowned on RCCL’s Oasis of the Seas.   Ascanio and his family were on a seven-day cruise that had left from Port Everglades, Florida. Luckily, a fellow passenger spotted the boy underwater, jumped in, and pulled him out. Unfortunately, Ascanio had been without oxygen for six minutes.

Some Accidents on Cruise Ships are Preventable

With over 1.5 million children sailing aboard cruise ships every year, it is unforgivable that Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean–the three largest cruise lines in the world–do not post lifeguards at any of their swimming pools.  As of today, only Disney Cruise Lines mandates lifeguards.  With the Norwegian Gem employing more than 1,100 crew members per voyage, it is inconceivable that they do not employ lifeguards at their swimming pools.

As a maritime accident lawyer in Miami, I know and understand the importance of parents’ keeping a close eye on their children at all times when on a cruise. Realistically, however, when vacationing dads and moms are distracted by the sun, waves, margaritas, and other shipboard activities and let their guard down for a minute, tragedy can occur, especially around the pools.  The CEOs of the major cruise lines–Carnival, RCCL, and NCL–are urged to put their passengers’ safety ahead of corporate profits . . . today. Employing lifeguards will protect their young and most vulnerable passengers–children–and eliminate preventable cruise ship accidents.

Investigating and Evaluating Your Potential Cruise Ship Claim

Our maritime accident law firm in Miami has represented passengers who have suffered accidents on cruise ships for nearly 25 years.  We fight hard to hold the cruise lines accountable for putting their profits ahead of passenger safety.  If you have been involved in an accident aboard a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Norwegian cruise ship, most likely your claim will have to be filed here in Miami, Florida, within one year of the date of the incident.  Other cruise lines, like Disney Cruise Lines (Orlando), Princess (Los Angeles) and Holland America (Seattle, Washington), bury other mandatory venue clauses deep in their passenger tickets.

Free Consultation for Cruise Ship Claims

One thing that almost all cruise lines have in common is the one-year statute of limitations. This is time-limit clause that sets forth when and how to protect your rights–or risk losing them forever. Therefore, if you have been hurt during your cruise, I urge you to contact an experienced maritime attorney today.

We offer all injured cruise ship passengers a free initial consultation.  We will help you understand your rights and the strengths and weaknesses of your potential claim.  Bear in mind that not all incidents that occur on or during a cruise are the fault or legal responsibility of the cruise line.   But knowing the difference and investigating the truth is important, and we are here to help you.

Please call us today, toll free at 1-866-597-4529, or email us at newcase@aronfeld.com.  We also offer consultations via SKYPE or FACETIME with one of our experienced attorneys and investigators.

Disney Cruise Ship

What’s Really Behind Your Disney Cruise Line Passenger Contract?

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

It certainly is an exciting time for Disney Cruise Line as they soon embark on their first cruise to Norway and Iceland aboard the Disney Magic. The ship will depart from Denmark and circumnavigate the Norwegian Fjords and Baltic over 11 nights.  The itinerary includes two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and aims to capture the stunning scenery and ambiance of the movie Frozen. To further the Frozen theme, Disney characters from the movie will be onboard, too.  Plan on seeing Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf roaming the atrium lobby and available for scheduled meet & greets.

The scheduled ports of call will include:

  • Oslo, Norway
  • Kristiansand, Norway
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Akureyri, Iceland
  • Kirkwall, Scotland

What Your Disney Cruise Line Passenger Contract States

Most people who sail on a Disney cruise never realize that Disney has an ever-evolving Passenger Contract.  Currently Disney passengers are subject to Version 9, which states the following in big red letters at the top:

THIS CONTRACT IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT, WHETHER OR NOT SIGNED BY GUEST OR GUEST’S RESPONSIBLE ADULT. IT IS ISSUED BY CARRIER BASED ON THE GUEST’S ACCEPTANCE, INDIVIDUALLY OR THROUGH GUEST’S RESPONSIBLE ADULT, ALWAYS SUBJECT TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SET OUT THEREIN.

In other words, all passengers are bound to the terms of the contract, even if the passenger is a child. Of course, most people never read the fine print, especially when all the focus is on the fun and excitement of an upcoming cruise.

The Limits to Your Rights

But it is important that people understand that if they or their children are injured while onboard a Disney Cruise Ship, even one that is in Norway or Iceland, they have very specific limitations on their legal rights and ability to hold Disney accountable. Of course the details are all in English and buried deep in the paragraphs of the passenger contract, which is available on line, but not easy to find.

For example, the contract prevents any claim against Disney for emotional or psychological injuries of any kind unless there is a physical component to the injury or the injury was caused by a crew member.  This means one cannot claim damages against Disney simply because one’s child was traumatized by a frightening event, such as witnessing an accident or being bullied, absent a physical trauma.

In addition, Disney requires that all claims must first be submitted to them in writing within six months of the date of the incident.  Failure to notify them in writing most likely would preclude a subsequent lawsuit, which must be filed within one year of the date of the incident, injury, or death of a passenger, and which must then be served correctly upon Disney within 120 days of filing. And if a lawsuit is filed, it must be filed in either Florida State Court in Brevard County or the United States Federal Court in Orlando.

This makes it very difficult for passengers and their families to hold Disney Cruise Lines legally accountable.  Most people we speak to have never been party to a personal injury case and are reluctant even to consult with a lawyer.  Some are surprised to learn that simply being injured aboard a Disney cruise ship does not automatically entitle them to compensation from the cruise line.  First, we have to understand how and why a particular incident occurred.  Not all injuries are cases.  Only those injuries that are caused in whole or part by the negligence or carelessness of Disney would entitle the passengers to compensation.

Next, we have to understand the injury. This can be very challenging when the passenger is a small child.  Often, especially with Disney cruise claims, the injured passenger is a baby or infant.  We do not completely understand the extent of the injury because it may take months or years to fully determine. This is especially true when there is a broken bone in a small child.  Many times the child recovers fully, but sadly sometimes not, especially if the fracture involves the growth plate.

However, under the time constraints imposed by Disney in their passenger contract, we must move quickly to protect our clients’ legal rights. This involves obtaining the CCTV footage of the event (when available) and medical records, as well as notifying and suing Disney in accordance with their time limits.

Contact a Cruise Ship Accident Attorney

If you or your child has been hurt during a Disney cruise anywhere in the world, we urge you to contact our experienced and dedicated cruise ship accident lawyers today for a free initial consultation.  Let our combined years of experience work to help you understand and protect your legal rights.  Call us today at 1-866-597-4529 or email us at newcase@aronfeld.com.

Statue of Liberty New York Harbor

Cruising to New York! A Guide to Cruises Leaving from NY

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

There is probably no more iconic experience in the world for cruise ship passengers than slowly entering the port in New York City passing by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  For many years New York Harbor was the Big Apple’s only terminal.  However, with the increasing demand for and supply of mega cruise ships, two new terminals have opened near Manhattan: Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

New York Passenger Ship Terminal–Manhattan

New York Harbor’s terminal, known as the New York Passenger Ship Terminal (NYPST), located on the Hudson River between West 46th and West 54th Streets, is one of the busiest cruise ship terminals in the world, handling over 1 million passengers a year.  NYPST is the year-round home to many luxury cruise ships, like Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway.

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (BCT) is located in the historic Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York, between Pioneer and Imlay streets.  The terminal, originally opened in 1952, was designed for freighters, but underwent a 52 million dollar conversion paid for by the City of New York in 2006 to handle passenger cruise ships.  Carnival Cruise Lines and its subsidiary brands, Cunard and Princess, all set sail from BCT and call it their home port.

Port Liberty, a.k.a. Cape Liberty

Port Liberty, also known as Cape Liberty, is located in Bayonne, New Jersey.  This port was originally designed for naval and military use.  However, after a multimillion dollar renovation in 2004, it was retrofitted to accommodate cruise ship passenger vessels.  Cape Liberty is used primarily by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) and its sister lines, Celebrity Cruises and Azmara Cruises.

Since 2013 RCCL has used Port Liberty as the home port for many of its mega cruise ships, such as the Explorer or the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas.  Port Liberty is located at 14 Port Terminal Boulevard, Bayonne, New Jersey, just seven miles from New York City.

Cruise Ship Accident New York

Regardless of which port a passenger may embark from in New York or where the cruise may travel to, Carnival, RCCL, and NCL have very specific limitations as to where and how New York cruise ship passengers who are injured aboard one of their vessels can file claims.

Norwegian, which maintains its home office in Miami, Florida, requires that any passengers who are injured or who die from an accident on an NCL ship must first submit written notice of intent to file a claim within 185 calendar days of the date of the incident, and then file a lawsuit within one year from the day of the incident in Federal Court in Miami. These requirements are found in the small print of the “Guest Ticket Contract,” which is a binding agreement between NCL and their passengers.

Accordingly, we recommend that if you are hurt on a cruise ship anywhere in the world, you consult immediately with an experienced maritime lawyer who understands the laws and limitations that cruise lines enforce against their own passengers.

Since 1991, our law firm has been helping people hold cruise lines accountable for putting their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We happily provide a free initial consultation by phone at 1-866-597-4529 or email at newcase@aronfeld.com to help you understand your rights and analyze your potential claim.