Monthly Archives: April 2016

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

A cruise ship has been quarantined in Norfolk, Virginia due to a major norovirus outbreak.
The Fred Olsen Cruise Line owned Balmoral left Southampton, England on April 16 on a 34 night “Old England to New England” cruise and arrived at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk where no one has been allowed to leave.
According to the ship’s captain, no one had been allowed to leave the ship on its previous stop in Bermuda either and the last time anyone was allowed off the ship was over a week ago on April 30.
This is a severe outbreak of norovirus as by Wednesday, April 27 153 out of the 917 passengers had gone down with the virus and six of the 158 crew although the ship said that by Friday, April 29 only seven people were still in isolation.
The ship said that they had carried out protocol when they were aware of the outbreak with increased cleaning and disinfection, collection of stool samples for testing, daily reports of the cases and the quarantining of passengers and crew who showed symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say their environmental health officers will board the ship when it reaches its next port of call which is Baltimore on either April 30 or May 1 to evaluate the outbreak and the response of the crew and the cruise line.
Fred Olsen has said that they believe the illness was brought onto the ship by a passenger which is what they also said was the case when there was a major norovirus outbreak in May 2015 when the ship was forced to return a day early from Norway as so many were ill and to carry out deep cleaning. In 2010 there were 250 people sick with norovirus on board and in 2009/2010 there were three other outbreaks over a 12 month period affecting 541 people in total

 

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It appears that the family of a Disney employee who disappeared from a Disney cruise ship back in 2011 has settled with Disney for an undisclosed amount.


Rebecca Coriam, from England worked on the Wonder cruise ship as a Youth Activity worker. She disappeared from the ship, aged 24,  off the coast of Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta and has not been seen since, not has the case been solved.  
It appears that there was a legal settlement with Disney in the U.S. back in 2015 but the family is still convinced there was foul play and is still investigating her disappearance back in the U.K. and is now thinking of opening a formal enquiry.
 Bill Anderson, a maritime investigation coordinator in the U.K. is convinced that a sexual assault took place on board the ship and he also believes that Disney were aware of it and of exactly what happened to Rebecca, who the family maintain was thrown overboard.
However Disney stands by a cursory investigation carried out by the Bahamian police as the ship was registered in the Bahamas, which stated that Corian fell overboard and was not suspicious. They state that it was probably a rogue wave, although CCTV footage shows her four decks below where she supposedly fell overboard, wearing someone else’s clothes and there were calm seas at the time.
Coriam has never been found, although her credit card was used some two months after her disappearance
Due to the terms of the settlement the Coriams are not allowed to discuss the case. However before the settlement was agreed they tried to ask the FBI and President Obama for help, but none was forthcoming.  

 

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A woman from Cloverdale, California plunged from a zip line during a shore based excursion when she was on a cruise.


Mother of four, 36 year old Heather Gladden was on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line together with her husband Ryan. The cruise began in San Pedro for seven days and when they reached Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Thursday, April 14, the couple went on a privately arranged excursion to the Nogalito Eco Park to go zip lining.
The zip line was around 2,100 feet long across a gorge and Ryan went first and landed safely on the other side. However when Heather went across something went wrong and she plunged around 500 feet into the jungle below. She did not expect to survive the fall but landed in some trees and when her husband heard her scream, he and employees from the excursion company ran to find her. When they found her he could see that her safety harness was only attached by one cable rather than two. She was lowered around 40 feet to the ground and then rushed to hospital by ambulance.
The hospital wanted to admit her but she did not want the cruise ship to leave without her and although badly injured and cut on the lower half of her body, she returned to the cruise ship. In addition as she did not speak Spanish she could not communicate with the medical staff at the hospital and preferred to be treated at home in Sonoma County.
On their return to San Pedro they drove to the Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital where it was discovered that as well as the flesh wounds to her body she had damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee which may need surgery.
The manager of the zip lining operation said that the cable did not break but just dropped lower than normal and maintained that Heather had not fallen as such, just descended as the line slackened, which Heather denies, alleging she was free falling.

 

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The inquest into the death of British woman Mary Atherton in April 2015 when she was travelling on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship has heard how the members of the crew panicked when she fell between the ship and a pontoon leading to multiple skull fractures.
Atherton was trying to step from a tender onto the pontoon which was attached to the cruise ship when she was returning from a shore excursion to Cambodia.
She was 75 years old at the time of her death and had some mobility issues having had replacement hips and knees. One of the other passengers, Pamela Griffiths spoke to the inquest saying that after Atherton fell into the water the crew members did not know what to do to help her.
A marine safety expert, Christopher Metson, also gave evidence at the hearing and he said that the crew members should have stopped the disembarkation until the sea conditions improved and that Atherton should have been asked to remain seated until that time.
However, he said that he did not think the safety officer, Mathew Nicholls had done anything wrong but he could have asked Atherton to wait until the larger waves had subsided and run the thrusters on the tender.
He went on to say that Cunard, the owners of the Queen Elizabeth, had now implemented a number of safety measures to prevent this type of accident happening again including a ramp which would bridge the gap between the pontoon and the tender.  In addition they have carried out more training, are using an additional crew member for disembarking and embarking onto a tender, and they will only allow passengers to use tender transportation if they can step across a gap of 45 centimeters unaided.

 

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The police report has been issued about the cruise ship electrician who was crushed in an elevator shaft.
Italian national, 66 year old Jose Sandoval Opazo, was the chief electrician on board the Carnival Ecstasy and died when he was crushed in a lift shaft on December 27 last year. He was carrying our routine maintenance on the top of the elevator when it moved floors from the sixth floor to the ninth floor. It appears that he fell and was crushed against the wall of the shaft which led to blood running down the outside of the elevator doors and horrifying passengers.
The incident took place on the final part of a three day cruise from Miami when the ship was around 27 nautical miles from Grand Bahama.  
According to investigators, crew members found that the elevators’ override system had a jumper cable on it which meant that the safety system had been shut off, which apparently is a common practice by the electricians. They also found a screwdriver which they think Opazo used to keep the elevator doors open.
One of the passengers, 43 year old Naples resident Jonathan Niesen said that the doors to the elevator shaft were open as he was waiting on the eighth floor and he saw Opazo working on the top of the elevator below him. He then heard a sound like rushing water and walked down to the seventh floor where he saw the blood dripping down the outside of the elevator doors.
Another passenger, 31 year old Shota Tanaka, from Bethesda, Maryland told investigators he had taken the elevator on the fourth floor and wanted to go to the eighth but having pushed the button, there was a sound of metal breaking and the elevator juddered. Once it reached the eighth floor the doors would not fully open and blood began to pour down the elevator door.
Following the accident, Carnival notified the Coast Guard and the FBI but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were not involved as  the death occurred in international waters.

 

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Once again hundreds of cruise ship passengers have been left deeply disappointed as the first voyage of Carnival Corporation’s Fathom cruise line was cancelled at the very last minute.


The cruise ship Adonia, under the social impact Fathom brand, was due to have what is called a soft launch leaving Miami on Sunday, April 10 for a week long cruise to the Dominican Republic carrying 710 passengers. Following that cruise the ship was due to have more cruises to the Dominican Republic, with its inaugural sailing on April 17 before setting of for Cuba on May 1.
However, the ship was unable to sail and according to Fathom, the ship had gone straight to Miami from dry dock where it was being refitted ready for the first cruise, but the testing by the U.S. Coast Guard was taking longer than anticipated. Therefore they had no alternative but to cancel the cruise.
The U.S. Coast Guard however, said that there were too many problems with the ship to allow it to leave including the fact that around 30 fire screen doors did not work and therefore they could not pass the ship as being fit to sail.
Fathom apologized to the passengers and said they would recompense passengers for any money that had to pay to change airline tickets, hotel rooms and the like and would also refund the cost of the cruise and airfare. The company said that they would also provide a credit for a future cruise for the full amount they had paid.
As many of the passengers were already in Miami waiting to board, they were given free meals and accommodation while there.

 

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A court in Miami Dade has decided that Holland America cruise line will not lose out for selling a diamond at the wrong price.

Back in February 2013, Thomas DePrince was on a cruise on the Eurodam. He was a retired antiques and jewelry dealer who lived in the Northeast United States but also had a vacation home in South Florida. While on the cruise he visited the jewelry store on board, Starboard Cruise Services, and told the salesman he was interested in buying a large diamond between 15 and 20 carats. The store manager then emailed Starboard’s headquarters who contacted Sophia Fiori Diamonds who offered the store a
20.64 carat emerald-cut diamond for the price of $235,000. DePrince consulted his sister, a qualified gemologist who was on the cruise with him, knowing that the diamond was actually worth twenty times that amount. Starboard Cruise Services had priced the diamond thinking it was the total cost when it was actually the price per carat. The actual price should have been $4.8 million.

Once the store realized the error, and knowing the diamond had not yet been delivered to DePrince’s home, they contacted DePrince, told him what had happened, cancelled the sale and refunded his money.

However, DePrince then filed a lawsuit which alleged breach of contract but a Miami Dade judge dismissed the case, which then went to appeal where DePrince was told he could have the case heard.

On Thursday, April 7, the case once again appeared in court and the judge once again ruled in favor of Starboard Cruise Services. He stated that DePrince was well qualified to know the true cost of the diamond and had consulted certified gemologists, before buying it. He dismissed DePrince’s claim that a contract had been agreed and it should be binding on both parties.

 

 

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In spring 2015, a couple from Salem died aboard a cruise ship and now one estate is suing the other for wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, the estate of Darla Jean Mellinger Banner, has filed a lawsuit against the estate of John Carl Banner.
John Banner and his recently wed wife Darla Banner took a cruise aboard the Holland American MS Rydam leaving from Tampa for a 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise. On April 2, the ship was docked in Puerto Rico and at around 11.30 a.m. the crew discovered the bodies of the couple in their stateroom. Initial reports stated the deaths were a murder-suicide. The local police began the investigation and it was taken over by the FBI.
According to a report in local newspaper in Salem, Ohio, the couple was known to the police as just after their honeymoon, the woman went to hospital with a knife injury.  
The lawsuit alleges that John Banner killed Darla Banner intentionally by hitting her, strangling her and suffocating her. She was aged 56 at the time of her death and is survived by her son, her mother and other relatives.  The lawsuit goes on to claim that had she lived she would have earned at least $480,000.  
According to passengers on board, they allege that the pair were involved in a love triangle and had taken the cruise to try and stabilize their relationship. However, the third person involved in the love triangle has sent Darla Banner a text saying that he wanted their relationship to continue. Once John Banner had read the text it was alleged that he broke a glass and stabbed his wife in the throat and then hanged himself in the bathroom.
The results of the investigation have not yet been made public by the FBI.

 

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Three British families are looking to file a lawsuit against Thomson cruises since they all fell ill on the Thomson Dream cruise ship between January and March this year.
Lesley and Paul Withington, from the north of England were on a two week cruise on the ship which left from Montego Bay, Jamaica over New Year. They said that their cabin smelled damp and the carpet was wet and began to smell of sewage during the voyage. They both suffered from dizziness, a cough, shortness of breath and loss of appetite as well as nausea and diarrhea and on their return to the UK, Lesley had to be hospitalized with what was thought to bacterial pneumonia and Paul was diagnosed as having a severe chest infection and is still having tests to determine the exact nature of his illness.
Joseph and Linda Pennington, from the north east of England travelled on the Thomson Dream in January and they too suffered from similar symptoms. Joseph, aged 65 had gastroenteritis and Linda developed a chest infection and was placed on intravenous antibiotics several times during the cruise. She continued to suffer when she returned home.
They allege that the food was often lukewarm and that several of the public toilets were out of order during the cruise. They also claim that other passengers were suffering from similar symptoms.
The third couple, Paul Easton and Susan Clews, from Birmingham in central England, travelled on the same ship in February. Both suffered from respiratory illnesses and Susan, aged 62, also had sore eyes and migraines along with problems breathing. She also received intravenous medication, but her vision became worse and when she saw an eye doctor on her return to the UK she was told that her blurred vision may need surgery and could very well be due to her respiratory illness.
This is not the first time cruise passengers on the Thomson Dream have suffered from respiratory infections and gastroenteritis. In 2010 more than 200 people were affected and had their claims settled for a six figure sum and there was a similar outbreak in 2012.

 

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On Thursday afternoon, March 31, a Hornblower harbor cruise ship smashed into the Broadway Pier in San Diego, injuring seven people.


The cruise ship was the 150 foot long Adventure Hornblower and it was docking at the San Diego Embarcadero in the area of North Harbor Drive and Broadway at round 1 p.m. when it slammed into the pier sending passengers on board flying and those on the pier running for their lives.
According to witnesses, the ship was coming in to dock at speed and did not slow at all before crashing into the pier which caused significant damage to the bow of the vessel and the waterfront walkway. As it approached the pier, the captain was frantically sounding the horn to warn those passengers waiting on the pier to get out of the way. Seven of those on board were injured and three of them had to be transported to hospital where none are thought to have life threatening injuries.
A tug boat was then used to pull the ship away from the pier before allowing passengers to leave the ship some three hours later.  
It appears that the reason the ship did not slow was due to a mechanical malfunction where a gear became stuck, meaning the ship could not slow down. It is currently being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
In the meantime it is not known when the Adventure Hornblower, which carries 300 passengers and is used for bay tours in San Diego's skyline and for dolphin and whale watching expeditions, will be repaired and cruising again.

 

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