Why I’m Not Cruising to Cuba with Carnival This Summer

Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest passenger cruise ship conglomerate, is certainly in a hurry to be the first of the three major U.S.-based cruise lines to bring its ships to Cuba.  I have been reporting for several years on how cruising to Cuba is becoming a very hotly contested and desired vacation to book for the increasingly competitive cruise industry.  But the price Carnival is willing to pay may prove to be too much. On May 1st, Fathom, Carnival’s newest subsidiary line, will set sail from Miami on a week-long journey to Cuba. This historic first-voyage itinerary includes stops in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba, and it will mark the first time in decades that U.S. citizens will be able to travel legally to Cuba on a ship leaving from a US port.   Unfortunately, not all U.S. citizens are welcome on this historic voyage, as the Cuban government has prohibited Cuban-born U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba by ship.  Discriminatory practices like this should not be tolerated by any person or business.  And it is especially offensive that Carnival–a large company that is based in Miami, Florida, with a heavy concentration of Cuban-born citizens and descendants–would place its corporate profit ahead of opposing the morally reprehensible position that Cuba’s government is taking. I cannot imagine any corporation that would escape criticism if their products or services were available to only some Americans but not others simply because they may have been born in another country. Imagine if American Airlines stopped allowing Israeli-born Jews who immigrated to the United States to fly to Israel. As a maritime...

The Most Common Injuries on Cruise Ships

Since 1991, our cruise ship accident lawyers have investigated thousands of passenger injury incidents aboard cruise ships. The types of injuries include food poisoning, sexual assaults by fellow passengers and by crew members, slips, trips, and falls, and even passengers falling overboard.  However, the most common injuries on cruise ships we encounter are those involving a passenger who has slipped and fallen on a wet deck or staircase or tripped over a threshold, breaking a leg, ankle, arm, wrist, or shoulder. We file hundreds of lawsuits and claims every year against the major cruise lines–such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess, MSC, and Regent Seven Seas–on behalf of passengers who have sustained significant injuries while on cruises.    When investigating these claims, it is crucially important for us first to establish why and how the incident occurred.  Many people believe that simply because they have been injured while on a cruise ship, they automatically have a case.  This is not true.  First we have to investigate whether or not the cruise line is responsible in some degree for what happened.    For example, we interview dozens of people every week who have slipped or fallen but have no idea what caused them to fall.  It is very common for people who slip on a wet staircase and fall, especially in front of a large number of people, to feel a sense of embarrassment, particularly if others are laughing or pointing at them.  In addition, if they have sustained a broken bone or worse, the pain, confusion, and shock of a sudden fall, the need to...

Construction of the Titanic II Ship: Sinking Before it Sets Sail?

Whenever one mentions the Titanic, people have various reactions, ranging from visions of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet on the set of a romantic movie, to the disastrous sinking of the actual ship more than 100 years ago, claiming 1,503 lives. Australian billionaire Clive Palmer claims that people will once again have an opportunity to experience the Edwardian opulence of the original ship, and he is heading an effort to create the Titanic II, a nearly exact replica of the ill-fated and illustrious Titanic. According to news reports, the Titanic II ship is the first major passenger cruise ship to be built in China, a fact which might explain why the original launch date has been delayed from 2016 to 2018. According to reports, the ship is currently scheduled to take its maiden voyage from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai.  It will reportedly set sail under the Blue Star Line, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia.    Mr. Palmer first announced his intention to create the Titanic II nearly four years ago.  The design for the ship was unveiled in Macau in 2013. Some may view creating a replica of a ship that sank and lost 1,503 passengers at sea as being in poor taste or ghoulish; others are literally standing in line to buy a ticket.  Even though ticket prices have yet to be announced, reports are that people are offering as high as $1 million dollars per ticket to sail on the maiden voyage.    This is not the first time a proposal for a functioning replica of the original Titanic has been announced. Following the release of the film Titanic...

RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas Ship Caught in a Terrifying Storm

Footage of passengers and crew aboard Royal Caribbean International (RCCL) Anthem of the Seas ship caught in a terrifying storm Sunday night surfaced after facing rough seas on their voyage from New Jersey to Port Canaveral, Florida, when they encountered Category 2 Hurricane winds and waves.  The ship’s captain ordered all passengers to remain in their staterooms until further notice. Royal Caribbean International released the following statement: On Sunday, February 7, while sailing to Port Canaveral, Florida, Anthem of the Seas experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, with wind speeds higher than what was forecasted.  In an abundance of caution, the captain asked all guests to stay in their staterooms until the weather improved.  At this time there have not been any serious injuries reported.  The ship has sustained some damage to the public areas and guest staterooms, which in no way affects the seaworthiness of the ship. Videos posted on a number of passengers’ Twitter accounts depict frightening images of areas of the ship’s public areas trashed with tables, chairs, and decorations scattered and strewn across decks. Reports of those conditions caused nervous family members at home to contact the Coast Guard for further information. The ship is expected to dock later this afternoon in Florida. As a lawyer who frequently sues Royal Caribbean Cruise Line on behalf of passengers, I commend the ship’s captain and crew for getting the ship to port safely.  However, I am frequently questioned by clients in cases like this as to how this could have been avoided and whether RCCL is responsible for compensating passengers who have been inconvenienced or injured as a result...

Cruise Ship Accidents In Jamaica

Jamaica is one of the world’s most popular cruise ship destinations and is currently number five in the Caribbean based on the number of ships and passengers that dock there every year.  The county hosted 1,423,797 cruise ship visitors in 2014, a 12.5 percent increase over 2013.   Currently, the country has several large cruise ship ports–including the Port of Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Falmouth–and is visited by all of the major cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Disney. Ocho Rios, located on the north coast of Jamaica, is currently the island’s most popular cruise ship destination port. Montego Bay, the second-most-popular port, recently completed a major renovation of its cruise terminal and the surrounding area. Falmouth, on the South Coast, is the newest port, and Jamaica is seriously considering making it the country’s number one cruise ship port.  In 2014, it hosted more than twice the number of passengers as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay combined. Falmouth opened in 2011. This year Jamaica announced its desire to open another port to be built on the Black River, in a historic town on the Southwest Coast, to lure cruise passengers and their dollars to that part of the island.  Already many passengers take excursions to visit the area’s famous natural attractions, Treasure Beach and YS Falls. The Port of Kingston is the oldest and largest port in Jamaica, and is located in the country’s capital city on the southeast coast near the Norman Manley International Airport, but it has not seen passenger cruise ships for decades. In fact, the last cruise ships to dock in Kingston were...

A Closer Look Inside Passenger Depositions in Cruise Ship Accident Cases

Norwegian Cruise Line and its CEO Frank del Rio seem focused on making the world’s third largest passenger cruise company number one, at least in Europe.  This week, NCL announced that for the first time in its 50-year history it will base five ships in Europe by the summer of 2017, including repositioning its newest ship, the Norwegian Getaway, from its current base at the Port of Miami, to a few miles from the cruise operator’s world headquarters to Copenhagen. The Getaway’s new itineraries will include Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and St. Petersburg, Russia. In addition to the Norwegian Getaway, NCL will be repositioning the Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Spirit. As a lawyer who frequently sues NCL on behalf of passengers who are injured while aboard one of the ships, I find that most of our clients are surprised to learn that in order to make a claim against NCL, they must travel to Miami, Florida, to litigate their lawsuits in Federal Court–regardless of where they may be from, even if their cruise started and ended in Europe.   For example, Mrs. Berna Kellner was injured on an NCL cruise ship and had to travel to Miami for her deposition, a physical examination by NCL’s doctors, and a court-ordered mediation. In this post we will discuss the deposition process. Typically, the first time I meet clients face-to-face comes a day or two before they are required to give a deposition.  A deposition is supposed to be a sworn interview between NCL’s lawyers and an injured passenger, to gain a better understanding of the facts as...
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