Cruise Ship Accident Claims: Will Ritz-Carlton’s New Fleet of Cruise Ships Be Safer?

You are likely familiar with Ritz Carlton as a luxury hotel chain. Part of Marriott International, the company operates 91 high-end hotels in 33 countries all over the world. The hotel company has been a standard-setter for lavish vacations and high-end holidays for a long time. Now Ritz Carlton is looking to bring its luxury brand to a different location, the high seas. What to Expect Aboard a Ritz Cruise Recently, Ritz Carlton announced that it was starting a luxury cruise line. The hotel chain is in the process of constructing three cruise ships; each will carry approximately 290 passengers. The ships are slated to have 149 rooms, which the company is calling suites, two penthouses, and restaurants overseen from shore by a Michelin star chef. The vision for these ships is to quash the current image of crowded cruise ships as not ideal for an elite traveler. Destinations will include ports throughout the Caribbean and Mediterranean, including the popular Italian location of Capri, which is too small to dock bigger ships. While the maiden voyage is not scheduled until the end of 2019, people are already expecting a hefty price tag for this high-end experience. Bookings will begin in May of 2018, and it will be possible to reserve a Ritz Carlton cruise ship for private charter. Can Ritz Carlton Build a Safer Cruise Ship? Ritz Carlton follows fellow cross-over Disney into the cruise business, and if this earlier example tells passengers anything, any cruise company will experience accidents and incidents aboard its ships. Whether big or small, luxury or mega, it is impossible for cruise companies to...

Cruise Ship Accident News: How to Pick Your Next Cruise–Start with the Ship

Since I investigate cruise ship accidents for a living, I am commonly asked by friends which cruise line is safest for a family vacation. My answer is . . . it depends. Every major cruise line has multiple ships, of various sizes, ages, and homeports–all of which can make a major difference in how they are maintained and equipped. While many people who are considering booking a summer cruise might go to Expedia or Kayak to see where they can find the best deals or the most exciting ports, I suggest starting one’s research on the far less exotic and exciting Center for Disease Control’s website–where the CDC publishes the results of its recent ship inspections, known as the Vessel Sanitation Program. The CDC doesn’t have jurisdiction over all ships, only those that schedule foreign itineraries and dock at US Ports. For example, an RCCL European cruise from Barcelona would not be subject to a CDC inspection. How do CDC Cruise Ship Inspections Work? CDC cruise ship inspections are supposed to be unannounced and periodic. Inspectors board the cruise ship at a US Port, like the Port of Miami, looking at how the ship maintains its medical centers, food and drinking water supplies and storage, swimming pools and Jacuzzis, insect and rodent control, and the general hygiene of the ship. The inspectors are looking for potential health hazards, and they are not there measuring steps, doors, and decks. These inspections are actually paid for by the individual cruise lines, based upon the size of the particular ship; most cost just under $18,000 per inspection, and ships are rated on...

Injury Lawyer’s Review of Seabourn’s New Ship The Ovation

In the competitive luxury cruise ship market, one cruise line seems poised to take the lead in 2018–Carnival Corporation’s Seabourn Cruise Line. Seabourn is based in Washington State and operates out of Carnival’s Holland America offices, having relocated from Miami, where Carnival maintains its world headquarters. The Seabourn fleet currently consists of only four ships, all flagged and registered in the Bahamas for the convenience of Carnival. The Seabourn Odyssey has been in service since 2009, the Seabourn Sojourn since 2010, the Seabourn Quest since 2011, and the Seabourn Encore since 2016. However, it is their latest ship, the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation, that has many in the cruise industry buzzing with excitement after it was just christened in Singapore for its maiden voyage, scheduled for May of 2018. The Ovation will be a sister ship to the Encore, but with an additional deck to accommodate more cabins, passengers, and both a sushi bar and piano bar. Rather than trying to compete with the over-the-top opulence of the current “Queen of Luxury Cruise Ships”–NCL’s Regent Seven Seas Explorer–it is purportedly designed with a more sedate yacht-like feel, giving passengers a more nautical and less glitzy or Vegas feel. THE PERFECT CRUISE FOR GOURMET DINING Foodies who like to cruise will be excited to learn that the Seabourn Encore’s cuisine has been designed by Thomas Keller, who many believe is one of America’s if not the world’s leading chefs. If you have ever dined at the Yountville’s French Laundry or Napa’s French Laundry, you know that meals at a Keller restaurant can cost $400.00 or more a person. Passengers on the...

Injured Crew Member Gets Jones Act Injury Case Dismissed

Representing injured passengers against cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, and Norwegian is expensive and difficult for the injured and their lawyers. However, it’s a lot easier than what injured crewmembers must face if they get hurt while working on a cruise ship. Take, for example, the case of Miguel Antonio Alvarado Castro, a Honduran injured while working as a cruise ship cabin steward aboard the Pullmantur Sovereign cruise ship.1MIGUEL ANTONIO ALVARADO CASTRO, Appellant, v. PULLMANTUR, S.A., PULLMANTUR CRUISES, S.L., PULLMANTUR CRUISES SOVEREIGN, a foreign corporation, and PULLMANTUR SHIP MANAGEMENT LTD., Appellees. 3rd District. Case No. 3D16-556. L.T. Case No. 14-21552. June 7, 2017.  He was represented by another Miami maritime injury law firm in a Jones Act Claim2The Jones Act says: any seaman who suffers a personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain a cause of action for damages at law, with the right to a trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply.  46 U.S.C. § 3010. against Pullmantur Cruises. He also alleged unseaworthiness, failing to provide maintenance and cure, and failing to treat his injuries. The evidence in the case was Mr. Castro’s allegation that on September 7, 2013, while he was working on the Sovereign, he was severely injured because of the constant heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and turning he had to do as part of his responsibilities as a cabin steward. He sued Pullmantur, a Spanish Cruise line–registered in the Bahamas, but...

Cruise Ship Accident: The Unwelcome Impact of Mega Cruise Ships in Venice, Italy

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Venice, Italy, to take the deposition of a Norwegian Cruise Line nurse in a maritime medical malpractice case and to inspect a Norwegian cruise ship in another passenger cruise ship accident claim. I can report that Venice may be one of the world’s most romantic and beautiful cities. Founded in the 5th century, Venice is spread over 118 tiny islands and has been a major maritime destination since the 10th century. The whole city is an architectural and engineering masterpiece, and virtually every building contains work by the world’s greatest artists.   Since 1987 Venice has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is probably why it is a favorite port of call for the competitive cruise line industry, battling not just each other to bring bigger ships with more passengers into Venice’s cruise ship terminal, but also the city itself as it fights to preserve the authenticity of its charming canals, architecture, and local culture. Despite the city’s efforts, as cruise ships continue to increase in size, it is not uncommon for a modern mega ship to disgorge 4-5,000 passengers in a few hours—throngs that can quickly swarm and overwhelm the narrow pedestrian streets and bridges linking the tiny islands. Bargain-hungry cruise passengers, who may have only a few hours to shop and sightsee, prefer fast-food alternatives to leisurely Italian-style meals, causing kebab shops and—heaven forbid—pizza-by-the-slice stands to pop up, trying to meet the demand. The exceptions to the rule are gelatarias offering homemade and handmade artisanal ice cream.   These developments certainly have not made the locals happy....

Cruise Ship Accidents Cruising To and From Labadee, Haiti

Should I get off the ship in Labadee? Absolutely, if for no other reason than to tell your friends you have been to Haiti. What they don’t ask won’t hurt. If you have booked a Royal Caribbean cruise that includes Labadee, Haiti, on the cruise’s itinerary, you’re in for a treat–even though you are not likely to experience the true culture, food, music, or people of the country of Haiti. That is because Labadee is a private resort run by RCCL, which pays the country of Haiti for each passenger who visits its port, recently renovated to accommodate RCCL’s new mega ships like the Harmony of the Seas. You’ll know of RCCL’s financial agreement with Haiti because of the government officials at the port literally counting the people who step off the ship. The site is fenced off from the rest of Haiti and guarded by a private security force, reminiscent of scenes from Jurassic Park.   Within the confines of the resort, RCCL passengers have a continuous opportunity to spend money on everything from beer to beachwear. Bungalows, ziplining and t-shirts are sold by RCCL crewmembers every few steps. In fact, the food and drinks are golf-carted right from the cruise ship, so you are most likely eating and drinking the exact same food as those passengers who stay onboard.   The beaches and waters surrounding Labadee are breathtakingly beautiful in both the clarity of the water and the tranquility of the ambience.  One side of the cove is more protected than the other, affording both calmer waters and softer, sandier beaches, unlike the other side which has...
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