Over 500 People Rescued From Cruise Ship Accident Involving Huge Fire

NBC has reported that on Wednesday of this week, a cruise ship carrying more than 500 passengers on their way from the Dominican Republic burst into flames following what preliminary investigations suggest might have been a mechanical problem. The Caribbean Fantasy, a cruise and ferry ship, erupted into flames near the Northern coast of Puerto Rico, leading to a major rescue effort that lasted for more than five hours. Speaking to members of the press right after the cruise ship accident, Mr. Angel Crespo, the director of the Emergency Management Agency in Puerto Rico, confirmed the incident and further stated that federal authorities were already questioning the captain of the cruise ship to try to establish what really happened. According to reports by one of the mechanics in the control room at the time, the fire could have begun as early as two hours before the alarms were sounded and the passengers were warned. The mechanic, Marlon Doblado, stated that the fire began after one of the hoses carrying fuel in the control room ruptured and the fuel caught fire. Crew members tried to put out the fire for about two hours while it was still contained in the control room before finally giving up. Mr. Crespo further reported that a total of 24 passengers from the ship had been hospitalized while another 105 passengers were treated or attended to on the spot. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and no life-threatening injuries as most of the people treated on the spot suffered only from heat stroke, shock, or dehydration. Others who had suffered more severe injuries were admitted for broken limbs resulting...

Woman Survives Cruise Ship Accident–Drifts At Sea For 38 Hours

A 30-year-old Chinese woman, known only by her last name, Fan, fell from the deck of the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas cruise ship and is reported to have survived the accident after drifting for 38 hours at sea. BBC reported that The Shanghai woman survived the incident suffering minor injuries caused by jellyfish stings. The cruise ship accident happened while Ms. Fan was travelling with her parents from Japan to China.  Fan was leaning on the deck rail of the ship from a height of about seven floors when she fell overboard at about 9:00 p.m. last Wednesday. She floated at sea for 38 hours, sustaining injuries from jellyfish stings before fishermen came to her rescue at about 11:00 a.m. on Friday. The incident occurred as the ship was sailing between Fukuoka, Japan, and Shanghai. The victim’s father was in absolute shock and refused to believe his daughter was still alive until he was contacted by authorities and heard her voice over the phone for the first time in days. While some believe her survival is a miracle, other commentators have attributed her survival to her fitness as a swimmer since she was five years old. Aside from those speculations and utter incredulity over her survival, it is difficult to say whether the family plans to take any legal action against Royal Caribbean since the cause of her fall has not been disclosed. This is certainly a troubling headline for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, who recently announced its ship the Ovation of the Seas as an exclusive addition to its fleet in Asia. RCCL has shifted its...

Cruise Ship Accident: Number One Mistake that Injured Cruise Ship Passengers Make

One of the most common and costly mistakes that a passenger injured on a cruise ship makes is hiring a lawyer who may be unfamiliar with the complex legal issues involved in suing a cruise line, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland America, Disney, Princess, and others. VENUE-SELECTION CLAUSE Chief among the major legal traps is the venue selection clause, which stipulates where in the world the case has to be filed to preserve the legal claim and the passenger’s rights. This requirement takes many passengers and their attorneys by surprise, and our cruise ship accident attorneys see case after case dismissed by courts around the country when the provisions are not strictly followed. For example, in a case we did not work on, Alicia Jennings claimed that she was injured while aboard the M/V Carnival Magic, one of Carnival’s cruise ships. Ms. Jennings boarded the ship in Galveston, Texas, and claimed she fell on a large puddle of water on the deck. She hired a lawyer who sued Carnival, claiming that it was a case of “negligent and proximately caused… injuries and damages.” Carnival responded that when she booked her cruise, she received an email with a “Guest Confirmation,” setting forth the terms and conditions of the Cruise “Ticket Contract.” Carnival contended that in addition to providing details about the cruise’s itinerary, the Guest Confirmation contained information that detailed “the proper venue in which to file suit.”   Candidly, I doubt that Ms. Jennings read this information, or that she understood it if she did read it. I don’t think the average person understands what a...

Royal Caribbean Making Waves in the Chinese Travel Market

Today, Royal Caribbean is the second largest cruise line in the world, after Carnival, but it certainly does not seem content to stay in that position for long. RCCL’s strategy is to devote great attention to China’s exploding cruise ship market in the form of new ships and ports. This year Royal Caribbean has already taken possession of the Ovation of the Seas, a 4,180-passenger ship built especially for the Chinese market by the famous Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, making RCCL now the largest cruise line in China. In addition to acquiring specially designed ships, RCCL has expanded its Chinese Port system.  For example, the Ovation of the Seas will be based out of Tianjin, which is about an hour’s drive southeast of Beijing. RCCL also designates Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Xiamen to be “home ports” for its other ships–the Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Legend of the Seas–which have typically provided 3- to 12-night cruises to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. RCCL has already experienced some of the cultural differences between operating cruise ships out of the Port of Miami, where it maintains its corporate headquarters, and operating in China, where it is now catering to a wealthy, demanding, and powerful demographic.  Last September, when Typhoon Goni forced RCCL to reroute the Quantum of the Seas from its intended itinerary of three Japanese ports to South Korea, passengers were displeased and demanded to be compensated by RCCL, even though RCCL provided the entire ship with free Wi-Fi and complimentary lobster dinners during the voyage. Ultimately, when RCCL denied...

Norwegian Cruise Line’s New Drink Package — Putting Profits Over Safety

I have never been a fan of the prepaid alcohol plans offered by most cruise lines as I believe such arrangements encourage over-consumption of alcohol in an environment often already more dangerous than what can be found on land.   Norwegian Cruise Lines–in an effort that can only be understood as motivated by profit and not passenger safety–has just announced an interesting new twist to its prepaid beverage plan, which it calls “The Ultimate Beverage Plan,” garnering a significant negative reaction from its customers. Norwegian Cruise Line passengers are now prohibited from carrying any of their own drinks aboard the ship, including water. Starting July 15, 2016, passengers will be banned from bringing any kind of beverages in hand or in luggage and will be forced to purchase all drinks from an NCL restaurant or bar.  NCL claims to be doing this for security and safety reasons. The one exception is factory-sealed bottles of distilled water used for medical devices or infant formulas. Currently, Carnival and Royal Caribbean allow passengers to bring aboard alcohol, soda, and other beverages in limited quantities.  It is understandable that passengers would be infuriated by NCL’s new policy as drinks aboard an NCL ship are exorbitantly priced. Passengers who have a couple of bottles of water, a few beers at lunch or by the pool, and a glass or two of wine at dinner can expect to add a few hundred dollars a day to their vacation budgets.   I have no doubt that the duty-free stores lining the ports that NCL ships visit must also be pretty upset with this decision. In the end,...

Norwegian Cruise Line Continues to Dismiss Cruise Ship Accidents

Another Norwegian Cruise Lines passenger’s injury lawsuit has been dismissed by a Florida Federal magistrate judge. NCL is certainly on a roll in successfully convincing judges to dismiss passenger claims. This is the second case we have reported this week (the first was Salazar v. NCL); it should be noted neither plaintiff was our client. In the latest case, Karen Bujarski sued NCL for injuries she sustained as a passenger aboard the MS Norwegian Sky (“Sky”) in March 2014, with her husband and daughter.  She claims that during a late-night “White Hot” dance party conducted by NCL—with dim lighting, on Deck 11, near an operating Jacuzzi—she slipped and fell on a puddle of water, injuring her knee. She alleged that NCL should have closed the Jacuzzis, just as it had closed the swimming pools during the party, and that the ship failed to post any wet-floor signs. Ultimately, she underwent surgery for the injuries sustained in the fall, resulting in about $70,000 in medical expenses. After the lawsuit was filed, NCL’s lawyers took Ms. Bujarksi’s deposition and then, based upon her testimony, filed a motion to have the entire case dismissed on the following grounds—also filing the Salazar dismissal as legal support: NOTICE—that NCL did not know about the puddle of water, so they did not have to warn her of it. OPEN and OBVIOUS—that the puddle was so obvious to Ms. Bujarksi, NCL did not have to do anything about it.  To me, this argument directly contradicts their Notice defense. NO CAUSATION—that even if NCL was negligent, it did not cause Ms. Bujarski’s alleged injuries. The judge’s opinion...
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