Tragedy Aboard NCL Breakaway: Fatal Lifeboat Accident

Tragedy struck in Bermuda aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4300-passenger Breakaway when one crewmember was killed and three others were seriously injured during a routine lifeboat drill. The lifeboat accident occurred when the cruise ship departed from New York and had just arrived in Bermuda, where it was conducting its weekly safety and training drill. A tethering line failed, dropping the lifeboat off the side of the ship. The four crewmembers were rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where one of them, a 41-year-old male from the Philippines, died. The ship then departed from Bermuda on schedule to complete the rest of the cruise. Our cruise ship accident law firm in Miami expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends, fellow crewmembers, and NCL for their loss as well as wishing the survivors a swift and complete recovery.   Crewmember accident and injury claims are subject to unique laws that are very different than those that apply to injured passengers.  Injured crewmembers (employees of the cruise ship) are governed by a federal law called the Jones Act.   The Jones Act protects injured seamen, crew members, and others employed by the cruise lines who are injured in the course and scope of their employment, giving them the right to sue the cruise line for personal injury damages. The Jones Act is also very different than the worker’s compensation laws that protect employees who are injured onshore in traditional jobs, like those at a grocery store, factory, or hospital.   For example, cruise line crewmembers cannot simply file workers’ compensation claims if they are injured.  Rather, they must make their...

Crime on Cruise Ships: How To Avoid A Vacation Nightmare

According to the United States Coast Guard, approximately 200 overnight ocean-going cruise ships are currently circumnavigating the world, with an average of 2,000 passengers with a crew of 950. By next year, the number of passengers is expected to exceed 23,000,000–up from 12,000,000 in 2007.   However, the Coast Guard also believes that “passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to crime . . . and need to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.” The truth is that crime on cruise ships is a lot more common than one would think. That is one of the reasons why Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act of 2010 (H.R. 3660), which requires among other things that the Coast Guard publish cruise ship crime statistics on its website–but only for ships that embark or disembark from US Ports.   Cruises leaving from European, Asian, and other ports have no obligation to report criminal activity to the FBI or Coast Guard.   Furthermore, the reporting seems sporadic; so far in 2016 only one report has been published, and it shows, not surprisingly, that much of the “reported criminal activity” occurs aboard Carnival Cruise Ships.  The report indicates that there were a total of ten criminal incidents involving Carnival passenger-victims from January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016, including one mysterious death, three assaults with serious physical body injuries, and seven sexual assaults. Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise line in the world, reported one murder, two suspicious deaths, a crew member suffering a...

Costa Cruise Line Announces New Robot Staff

Costa Cruise Line announces new robot Staff! That’s right! Costa Crociere, the Italian cruise line that is wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, will be adding five new and unique additions to the crew of its flagship vessel, the Costa Diadema–robots . . . yes, robots.  The robots, all named Pepper, are specifically designed to interact with passengers in several languages and to recognize and react to human emotions. Starting this week, five Pepper robots will begin working aboard the Costa Diadema on a seven-day cruise around the Western Mediterranean.  Apparently, Pepper can dance and take selfies with passengers, all while conversing in Italian, French, and English.  In September, the Costa Fascinosa will get its own complement of Peppers. Additionally, Pepper can answer questions about the day’s itinerary, make spa reservations, book spa dates and excursions–as well as provide directions to the ship’s casino, bars, and restaurants.  Disgruntled passengers can even file a complaint with Pepper, but I would not recommend it. We wish Costa and its newest crew members the best of luck.  As a lawyer who sues cruise lines, I hope that Pepper is also equipped with safety information, such as the ability to direct passengers to muster stations, transmit warnings, and identify other dangers. Unfortunately, Costa became forever linked to one of the worst cruise ship accidents in history when the Costa Concordia capsized in January 2012, killing 32 people, near the Isola del Giglio off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. Although Costa is based in Genoa, Italy, it is owned by Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida.  Passengers injured aboard a Costa ship...

Boy Dies from Accidental Drowning on Anthem of the Seas Ship

The Staten Island City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reported that Prince Adepoju of Maryland, the eight-year-old boy who was found at the bottom of a swimming pool aboard RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas last month, has died. The boy was airlifted from Anthem of the Seas on June 30, 2016–shortly after the ship left the port of Bayonne, New Jersey–to Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze, where he remained in critical condition until he died. The accidental drowning on Anthem of the Seas ship was reported after the child had been in the pool for 8-10 minutes before he was rescued at 8:00 p.m. and the ship was diverted back to port. According to email from a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, “The cause of death is drowning, with contributing condition of seizure disorder.  The manner of death is accident.”     WHAT ARE CRUISE LINES DOING TO PREVENT ACCIDENTAL DROWNINGS? I have written a number of blog posts about my belief that cruise lines should be required to post lifeguards at pools, and then read the scathing comments blaming grieving parents for not adequately supervising their own children. Instead of debating who is at fault for the wrongful death of a child on a cruise ship, I would rather examine how and why it could be prevented.  After all, shouldn’t protecting the life of an innocent child be the most important issue?   Today’s mega cruise ships are monstrous floating cities that carry more people than lived in many of the small towns in America, and these behemoths are designed for one purpose only: to...

Near Drowning Aboard RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas Ship

It appears that most cruise lines do not want to spend the money needed to protect young passengers from drowning in their pools.  If it is not that they are trying to save money, I cannot understand the reason why they continually resist hiring and placing trained and competent lifeguards at their pools. Perhaps they argue that they would be exposed to even greater legal liability by not positioning the lifeguards in the proper places, not training them correctly, or for their failure to respond quickly enough. However, if they can find people qualified to get a massive mega cruise liner with 6000 passengers and crew from Miami to Cozumel three times a week, they can hire some Red Cross-approved teenagers who want to make some money and live on a cruise ship for three months–and most importantly save some lives. Unfortunately, until the cruise industry–Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Carnival–puts passenger safety ahead of profit, parents will need to make sure they put their vacation on hold whenever their kids want to enjoy the pools. Cruise lines simply prefer to place the responsibility for pool safety on untrained parents who have been plied with unlimited drink packages and spa days, and can easily fall asleep or be distracted from maintaining constant visual contact with their kids who are splashing around in overcrowded swimming pools with dozens of strangers. For example, last week RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas was forced to make an emergency return to port shortly after it left the Port of Bayonne, New Jersey, after an eight-year-old Dutch boy nearly drowned in one of the ship’s...

Cruise Ship Doctors : Qualified to Treat Passengers at Sea?

Severe Injuries–such as fractures or broken bones–can quickly disrupt the vacations of cruise ship passengers and quite possibly affect their quality of life forever. What many cruise ship passengers fail to realize is just how common severe injuries on cruise ships really are. These serious injuries should not be taken lightly and must be addressed immediately for a number of reasons. It is important to be able to identify these injuries and take every precaution after the incident occurs on the cruise ship. The rule of thumb here is not to assume that the accident was your own fault and to report the injury to a cruise line employee right away. The cruise line will issue what they call a passenger injury statement form, which is a formal statement from the cruise line, outlining all of the details of the accident. It is important to understand that this document may be used against against the injured passenger if they decide to take legal action against the cruise line. There could not be a more unfortunate time to suffer such a severe injury as a fracture or broken bone than while on vacation at sea. Passengers are often at the mercy of the medical staff onboard the cruise ship, especially when traveling outside of the country. Many passengers are shocked when they find out that most ships don’t even have a doctor available on board.  The medical care that passengers receive from cruise ship doctors is often mediocre at best, forcing many injured passengers to endure the hassle and discomfort of disembarking the ship and seeking proper medical treatment elsewhere. Up until...
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