Monthly Archives: January 2016

Proudly Representing Cruise Ship Cases in Miami, Nearby Areas of Florida and Nationwide

On Thursday, January 28 thick fog prevented thousands of cruise passengers from leaving the ship at the end of their cruise along with around a dozen more ships.

The Carnival Cruise Line, Paradise, was due to return to Tampa at 8.00 a.m. Thursday morning, following a five day cruise. It was then supposed to turn around and sail off again in the afternoon for a four day cruise to Belize and Cozumel.

However, the port in Tampa Bay was closed due to thick fog and in the event it did not manage to dock until 9.30 at night. Given the late hour, passengers were given the option of spending another night on board.

For those who were waiting to board for their four day Belize and Cozumel cruise, the news was not good at all. The trip was shortened by a day to three days and passengers were told it would now be a cruise to nowhere, with no ports of call at all. Many were extremely disappointed and had to lay out extra cash for a hotel room on Thursday night as they were not allowed to board until Friday afternoon.
Carnival did offer a 50% refund on the cost of the cruise plus a 50% discount on a future Carnival cruise.

Those waiting to dock so that they could leave the ship were also not happy as they went round and round in circles in the Gulf. In addition they were given no compensation for having to reschedule flights.

 

 

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In 2015, 27 people fell or jumped overboard from cruise ships, which is the highest number this decade.


Given the fact that nearly 22 million people took a cruise last year, the fact that around 27 fell or jumped overboard, means that it happens to only around one person per million cruisers. So although it is in effect only a small number it is still sufficiently high to cause concern. In addition the numbers could indeed be higher than those which have been reported.
It is very difficult to fall off a cruise ship accidentally, and it is thought that alcohol often plays a major role. But given so few people survive it is often very hard to know the reason that the person went overboard. A woman who fell off the Carnival Destiny in 2012, and was rescued, confirmed that she was very intoxicated at the time and later suggested that her inebriation played a role in her having fallen overboard.
Often when it is not known if alcohol was a factor, some people fall overboard after making rash decisions such as trying to climb over railings or jump off balconies following an argument, usually with their partner.
If you drink on a cruise ship it impairs judgment and reduces the element of fear which leads to a tendency to carry out risky activities people would not normally indulge in. Alcohol can also make depression worse, so those who are already depressed can be tipped over the edge to becoming suicidal.
Those cases which are not alcohol related are often never solved and can indeed be a result of foul play. However they are often classified as suicides as there are no witnesses and the cruise lines are not always open to passing on information which might not be in their best interests. In addition the cruise lines do not carry specialists on board to secure potential crime scenes and gather evidence in a professional manner.
For those who do fall or jump overboard, the chances of survival are not good, being around one in five, as many do not survive the initial impact with the water and drown, or they die of hypothermia, are run over by a passing ship or are eaten by sharks. In order to maximize chances of survival, try and float and expend as little energy as possible.
The cruise lines could do more by increasing the height of some railings and use man overboard technology to pinpoint exactly when and where someone fell into the water. Also, the cruise lines could try somewhat harder to curb excess alcohol consumption to reduce passengers from becoming a danger to themselves.

 

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On Tuesday January 19, the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas was supposed to disembark passengers at a beachfront resort on Labadee in Haiti but was unable to because of a protest.  


Labadee is a 260 acre peninsula located on the north coast of Haiti.  There is a resort on the beach which is leased by Royal Caribbean and divided from the rest of the peninsula by a high fence and patrolled by security guards. 
As the cruise ship approached Labadee around ten small boats approached, full of Haitians chanting and banging pots and pans. The 3,600 passengers on board thought it was part of a welcome ceremony until the coast guard arrived and began to circle the boats ordering them to leave.  
The passengers were unsure what the protest was about but were preparing to disembark when an announcement was made that there would be a delay. Meanwhile the coast guard was still attempting to disperse the protest boats. Over two hours later a further announcement was made to say that the protests were nothing to do with a protest against the cruise line but they were related to the Haitian elections.
In the first round of the presidential elections no candidate had the required number of votes to declare victory and so there is supposed to be a second round of voting between the government candidate Jovenel Moise and opposition candidate Jude Celestin. However Celestin maintains that due to international interference and internal corruption there is no way he can win and hence he has boycotted the runoff election. This has led to major riots throughout Haiti over recent days.
A further announcement was made that in order to protect the safety of the passenger there would be no disembarking and the ship would spend the day at sea and proceed to Jamaica. The ship then departed. 
Labadee has been the scene of tension before as the passengers are not allowed to leave the fenced off portion to see more of the country, nor are Haitians allowed to enter the compound. Sales of merchandise are allowed to only a few and the majority of the workers in the resort are not Haitian but other nationalities employed by Royal Caribbean.

 

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On Thursday, January 14 a road accident in Jamaica led to the death of a cruise ship passenger and more are injured.


The 21 tourists were all passengers on the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas which was docked in Falmouth, Jamaica on a five night cruise around the western Caribbean. The ship left Fort Lauderdale in Florida on January 11 and is expected to return on Saturday. The passengers were heading back to the ship in a Toyota Coaster bus following an excursion to the famous Dunn’s River Falls and were on the Carey Park road in Trelawny at shortly after 3 p.m. when the bus was involved in a collision with three other vehicles. The driver of a white Freightliner truck lost control and hit the bus causing it to flip. The truck then hit a yellow Toyota van and a grey Toyota Corolla, trying to avoid a head on smash, left the roadway and ended up in a ditch
Four of the passengers were injured, one female sadly passed away, although her identity has not yet been released, and the others are in the Falmouth Public General Hospital. The cruise line is providing support to the injured passengers and family of the deceased.
This is not the first time there has been a bus accident on an excursion from a cruise ship with the most recent being last month in Tortola, British Virgin Islands when two passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed and several injured when a driver lost control of the bus. On that occasion, no other vehicles were involved.

 

 

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Two men from Toledo, Ohio, 32 year-old Jason Lawson and 30 year-old Arturo Martinez, have been arrested in connection with the assault of a 13-year-old boy aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2015.


According to court records, the boy offered a girl, who was also sailing on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas, a keychain in exchange for her virginity. Lawson, the girl’s father, overheard the conversation and confronted the boy along with Martinez, the girl’s uncle.
Officers with the Broward County sheriff’s department say that surveillance video show the men cornering the boy against a bookcase, and placing their hands on him – preventing him from leaving. Martinez is reported to have thrown the boy down several times onto a couch while Lawson stood watch.
Things took a turn for the worse when Martinez reportedly ordered the boy to pull down his pants, as Martinez did the same, though they both remained in their underwear. Martinez then reportedly forced the boy onto the couch and sexually assaulted him, but he is not believed to have penetrated the boy.
Broward Judge John "Jay" Hurley, hearing the case on Wednesday, set Lawson’s bond at $11,000. He is facing charges of battery and false imprisonment. Martinez is currently in detention awaiting trial on similar charges.

 

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Another American cruise ship passenger has died while snorkeling.

This time the death occurred at around 9.30 in the morning near Sargeant’s Caye in Belize when 67 year old Janice Mittelstadt from South Dakota died. She had arrived on a Princess Cruise ship, the Caribbean Princess, and was on an organized tour with Belize Dive Connection. The company is a full service Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) facility located at Hugh Parkey’s Belize Adventure Lodge on Spanish Look-Out Caye located just 25 minutes from Belize City.

The tour guides said that while she was snorkeling she suddenly went under the water. She was rescued from the water and given CPR but did not regain consciousness. She was then taken to the mainland where she was pronounced dead at around 11 a.m. and transferred to the morgue. A post mortem is due to be carried out to see if she suffered from any underlying medical condition. Early, yet unconfirmed, reports are that she had a seizure in the water which could have contributed to her drowning.

Only one month ago, there was a similar event when 61 year old Karl Simmons drowned while snorkeling in the Shark Ray Alley Marine Reserve which is also in Belize.  The tourist police believe that even though there are deaths every year from visiting cruise ship passengers who are snorkeling and diving, there is little that they can do to prevent them, especially as the major of the victims are older. This contention contradicts the fact that cruise lines have a history of recommending excursions to their passengers which are often carried out by unqualified or dangerous providers.

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On Sunday, January 3, agents with Homeland Security were watching the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship in port in New Orleans which had arrived from Honduras.

They saw three of the crewmen in a restroom in the Riverwalk shopping mall which is next to the cruise ship terminal.

They continued to watch as two of the men took off their shoes and pants inside the stalls in the restroom, which to them is a sign of drug smuggling, as smugglers often have the drugs inside their pants or strapped to their bodies. The agents moved in and detained the two men and recovered a bag which contained six packages of cocaine which had been concealed in their underwear.
The two men, crew members Asbert Lowmans and Jean Louis admitted to the agents that they had been smuggling and Lowmans agreed to cooperate. The third man, Felicien was then arrested as he made his way back to the cruise ship, along with a fourth man, Kevin John who was also in possession of a package of cocaine.
Lowmans then admitted that he was going to sell the drugs to a Jamaican man, whose name he said was Uncle, and he agreed to go ahead and meet him in the SpringHill Suites hotel on St. Joseph Street. Once he met Uncle, whose real name was Alfred Dennison, he too was arrested and found to be in possession of $19,000 which he planned to use to purchase the drugs.
In total, the cocaine weighed around 4.75 kilograms.
All five were booked on the felony charge of importing cocaine.
This is not the first time Norwegian Cruise Line crew members have been arrested for smuggling cocaine as last year, five were caught in Tampa with cocaine from the Norwegian Dawn and also last year a galley worker was caught boarding with cocaine by the on board ship’s security.

 

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In June, 2015 Keith White drowned in Lake Ontario after having fallen overboard from the Northern Spirit cruise ship. His family has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Keith was aged 34 and was with around 425 other passengers aboard the ship, owned by Mariposa Cruises, for a party. He was from London, Ontario, Canada and was a certified lifeguard as well as a welder. At around 7.30 p.m. he fell overboard some two kilometers south of the Humber River, and according to Mariposa the captain followed protocol and immediately put the ship into neutral to be able to turn around and rescue White. 

However, other guests on the ship state that this is not what happened. They say the rescue boat was lowered but then brought back on board as the captain had not issued any orders. They say that they saw Keith treading water for around 10 minutes and according to experts it should only have taken two minutes to rescue him.  

The family of White filed the $1 million lawsuit back in October against not only Mariposa but also the hosts of the party, Ankur Entertainment. 

Ankur Entertainment has closed all of their social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and has not responded to the lawsuit.

Mariposa maintains the captain reacted correctly and confirmed that the 19 crew had all completely annual training. They went on to say they are confident that they will be completely exonerated.

According to the federal Transportation Safety Board the investigation is ongoing.
 

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