Monthly Archives: May 2016

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

A student has been stabbed on board a cruise ship and is seriously wounded.

On Tuesday, May 24 a cruise ship was sailing from Barcelona in Spain and was in the Mediterranean Sea on its way to Civitavecchia, Rome. On board were around 1,500 students from around Serbia who were sailing a graduation cruise which had been booked through a local travel agent. It is reported that in the early hours of the morning there was some sort of altercation between a group of Serbian students and another passenger on the ship who was also from Serbia.  It is thought that alcohol was a factor and at the time there was some sort of party taking place on deck.
One of the students was allegedly holding a knife and 23 year old Serbian student Jovan Spasic tried to calm him down. However as he attempted to diffuse the situation with 28 year old Aleksandar Stojanović, from Krusevac in Serbia, Spasic was stabbed four times in the stomach. He was rushed to the onboard medical center for urgent attention.
However, Spasic had lost a great deal of blood and his liver was damaged and continuing to lose blood. From the time he was stabbed to being transferred to hospital in Rome he had lost a liter and a half of blood.
It took up to a week for Spasic to be well enough to be transferred to a Serbian hospital where it is understood he is now out of danger and stable.

 

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The Fathom Cruise Ship, Adonia owned by Carnival Cruise Lines was forced to return to Port Miami on the evening of Sunday, May 29 because there was a total power outage as it was on its way to Cuba.
The ship was on the first leg of a weeklong cruise to Cuba and at around 5 p.m. in the afternoon all power went out leaving the ship in darkness and some of the 700 passengers stranded in elevators. The power outage lasted approximately 30 minutes during which time the bathrooms and air conditioning also ceased to work.
A cruise spokesperson said that the passengers were being kept updated and that the Coast Guard had been notified. Even though the situation was resolved, the Coast Guard insisted that the ship returned to Miami for further evaluation.
Having returned to Port Miami Adonia left again at 3 a.m. Monday to continue on its seven night tour of Cuba.
Due to the problem, the ship was forced to change its itinerary, now arriving into Havana for two days at 7:30 a.m. May 31, and will now depart 6:00 p.m. on June 1. It has therefore been necessary to cancel the call to Cienfuegos and the ship will go from Havana directly to Santiago de Cuba.
So far Carnival Corporation have said nothing about compensation for passengers.

 

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The biggest cruise ship in the world has run into problems on its very first cruise.
The Harmony of the Seas left Southampton in the United Kingdom on Sunday May 22 on a four day cruise to Rotterdam in Holland with many of its 6,000 passengers complaining it was not only a construction site on board but there were serious safety risks to the passengers.
The ship weighs 227,000 tons and is 216 feet wide and 1,187ft in length. It cost almost $1 billion to build, has 16 decks and will be able to carry 6,360 passengers and 2,100 crew members.
The passengers on board, all paid for the cruise, and said that not only some of the attractions were closed but in addition there was ongoing work. There was sharp debris floating in the swimming pools, even the children’s pool and across the ship there were lines of distressed families waiting for attractions which were not operating. Urinals were blocked and overflowing and there was wet paint everywhere including in the staterooms. In addition safety glass was missing on some of the decks.
Royal Caribbean Cruises agreed that the final finishing touches were being made, but added that this was a "pre-inaugural" sailing and also called it a “shakedown cruise” where the systems and the facilities were being tested.
Among the on board attractions are "The Ultimate Abyss", which is a 10 storey slide from the top deck to the boardwalk along with a giant climbing wall, a rope slide, mini golf, surf simulator, floating Jacuzzis, a casino and a 1,400 seat theater playing Broadway musicals.  
The ship even has its own high street, and what is called "Central Park" deck featuring 11,000 plants.

 

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Shore based excursions are very important for the cruise lines as they make large profits for the companies.


For example, it is estimated that Navigator of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean, makes up to and even over a million dollars a week in on board sales and sales of shore excursions. It is usually the safest option for the passengers to book via the cruise lines as they normally try hard to make sure that the businesses they are working with are safe for their passengers, as well as licensed.
Previously if there was an accident to a passenger on a shore excursion, even one sold via the cruise line, the cruise line could often rely on the defense that the excursion company was an independent contractor and therefore they could not be held to be liable. However, more recently, the courts have started to apply some of the principals of common law hence the cruise lines have a higher duty of care.
For example, if they use words in the literature about the excursion such as highly skilled employees run the excursion or they say the excursion is safe, and there is an accident then the cruise line can be held liable.
In the case of Zapata versus Royal Caribbean, the passenger bought an excursion via the cruise line for bell diving. The passenger ran out of air under the water and was brought to the surface for oxygen, only to find the oxygen tank was empty and so he died. In another case, a passenger bought an excursion to a beach from the cruise line, Carnival Corporation but on the way back from the excursion there was gangland violence on the road and the passenger was killed. It was ruled that Carnival knew about the gang violence in the area and knew that the beach had a reputation for drug and gangland related violence and the company was therefore negligent in offering the excursion to passengers.

 

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A husband and wife from Surrey in Canada have been faced with a massive bill following a cruise to Hawaii on the Star Princess.


In the fall of last year, Robert and Marilyn Wiens went on a cruise of a lifetime to Hawaii which left from Vancouver. Being sensible they took out travel insurance for the 15 day trip as well as Princess Vacation Protection.
However, during the cruise they both fell sick along with many other passengers as norovirus made its way through the ship so they both had to receive medical treatment on board.
Then, as the ship was reaching Vancouver at the end of the trip, Robert fell in the bathroom. He was immediately rushed to the medical center on board and a doctor from the shore was brought on board to tend to him. From there, he was transferred to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for two weeks where, although he nearly died, he did recover.
However, despite having insurance, they are facing almost $4,000 in medical bills. The couple had different insurers and while Marilyn’s did pay out, Robert’s did not as he assumed a 15 day cruise would be 15 nights and so he had insured for that time period when in fact they were on the cruise ship for 16 nights. This was sufficient for the insurance company to nullify the policy.
In addition, another $1,200 was charged to Robert’s credit card to pay for the doctor who came on board in Vancouver following his fall and this was not covered by the Princess Vacation Protection.
This case, once again highlights not only the importance of travel insurance, but also the importance of checking any insurance very carefully to check what is, and what is not covered.

 

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A filing has been made in a court in Miami Dade concerning a serious accident suffered by a child on the Norwegian Escape last month.


According to the filing, 8 year old Giovani Reyes suffered severe brain damage when he fell as he was playing basketball on the 4,248 passenger ship, which was on a seven day cruise from Miami to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola in the British Virgin Islands; and Nassau in The Bahamas.
Unfortunately it is not know exactly what happened as to date Norwegian Cruise Lines are refusing to hand over the surveillance video which doctors say could be vital in knowing what happened to Giovani who sustained a traumatic brain injury along with a fractured skull. He was immediately rushed off the ship and tendered to Puerto Rico, where he was treated at el Hospital Pediatrico Universitario Rio Piedras, which is a children’s hospital in San Juan. There he remained in critical condition, but there has recently been some improvement and he is learning to walk again, although his long term prognosis is unknown.
Before leaving the ship, Giovani’s stepfather, Michael Wolfarth asked to see the video footage and was refused as was his request for the crew and supervisors of the children to tell him what happened.
The filing is now asking a judge to make the cruise line turn over the tape in order to assist doctors to be able to make the best possible medical decisions for Giovani.

 

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The United States’ Coast Guard has published a list of the main safety problems found on board cruise ships.


The report was published by the Coast Guard’s Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise (CSNCOE) and shows the main problem being that in the event of an accident involving sinking, flooding or fire, it would be very difficult for passengers to escape. 
Fire screen doors did not work properly, escape routes were totally blocked or blocked partially and in some cases escape doors were actually locked with no means of opening them.
Special doors which were supposed to be water tight would allow water in as parts of gaskets were missing, alarms did not work and systems to extinguish fires were not working with sprinklers missing, damaged or painted over.
There was a major problem with the use of space as due to the fact there is not much spare space on a cruise ship, the spaces that there was available was often being used to store combustible material in areas where there was no fire protection or suppression systems. 
The report did state that on the whole there was a good culture of safety across the industry with the Coast Guard having conducted 259 examinations and 1.6% having received a detention for a variety of reasons including staff inadequacies, oily surfaces in the engineering areas, rotting fire hoses, use of cooking equipment in accommodation areas and leaking life boats.

 

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New information has been revealed about the death of a mother of four who went overboard from the Carnival Liberty cruise ship early in the morning of Friday, May 13 and the FBI is now involved in the case.


To date, no one really knows what happened to 33 year old Samantha Broberg apart from what can be seen on the video footage. It is known that she apparently went overboard from the 10th deck and a red colored stain can be seen on the deck where she fell. Carnival has said that is from a red colored cocktail which was spilled at the scene.
However, on the return of the ship to Galveston, several of the passengers came forward with some additional information, including one passenger who alleges he was at the scene when investigators were checking and they found a knife in the trash in the same spot she fell.
The surveillance footage shows Broberg sitting on the top of the deck railing which, is over 5 feet high, and then falling backwards into the ocean. Many passengers have said that the railings are so high she would have had to climb up, and they do not believe she would have done that voluntarily.
Carnival maintains that the event is both sad and tragic, but that there is no foul play suspected. The company says that the footage does not show any indication of foul play and the has dismissed the passengers’ comments.
The FBI has so far only said that this is a death investigation and would make no comment on the knife or the question of foul play.

 

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According to the Federal Maritime Commission, Haimark Lines is now bankrupt and has just announced the cancellation of those cruises which it still had planned. Passengers will receive refunds from the escrow agent for those cruises on the only ship the cruise line had, the 210 passenger Saint Laurent, which was chartered from the Clipper Group.

Haimark Lines used to have cruises on the eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes but just weeks after the first voyage in May the Saint Laurent hit a lock wall in the St. Lawrence Seaway and was out of service for a month, with cruises cancelled as the ship was repaired. According to the company, this incident forced it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of October.

Haimark planned to take the Saint Laurent to Cuba on cruise and announced they would begin from Miami in February this year, making the ship the first to go to Cuba, but instead it was Carnival cruises who took that honor.

So far customers who have had their cruise cancelled have filed for around $800,000 in cancelled bookings and it is not yet known whether the escrow account has sufficient funds for everyone to be paid in full, but it is known that air travel and hotel expenses will not be refunded.

A private equity firm bought Haimark in January, specifically for its Far Eastern river cruise operations and at the time, Haimark president Hans Rood said that the sale would allow them to carry out the Cuba sailings. However that did not happen.

Haimark Line and Haimark Travel's websites are no longer available and there is only voicemail at the administrative offices and the customer service line.

 

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The Carnival Pride cruise ship had problems docking in Baltimore, Maryland on Sunday, May 8 when it arrived back from a week long cruise to the Bahamas.


At it reached the dockside at the end of the cruise, the front of the ship for some reason ran straight into the gangway which was waiting to disembark passengers. Having hit it hard, the gangway then collapsed on top of three pickup trucks, owned by Carnival Cruise Line employees which were parked on the dock. Luckily there was no one in the vehicles which were hit at the time the gangway smashed into them.
Passengers on board reported hearing a crash and feeling a severe jolt but there were no injuries reported to any one on board.
The gangway was supposed to be used by passengers to disembark from the ship but instead they had to use the gangway reserved for the crew which was situated some decks lower at the level of the pier.
The ship suffered minor damage but the Baltimore port spokesman, Richard Scher, said that the damage was not sufficiently severe to prevent the ship leaving on time later that day on its next cruise. The ship did eventually leave as scheduled.
At this time it is not known why the ship crashed into the gangway and the accident is being investigated by both Carnival and the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

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