Monthly Archives: June 2016

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

Every year dozens of people go missing from cruise ships across the globe. Most of their stories will never make it onto the evening news, and even those that do usually only command the public’s attention for a day or so.

The lack of news coverage, and hence public outrage, may be one of the reasons that more ships are not currently implementing “man overboard” technology, which is actually mandated by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010.
According to the CVSSA cruise lines are to implement integrated technology which can be used to detect and capture images of passengers who have fallen overboard. Certainly, the technology exists. And the cost of deploying such safety measures is surely well within the companies’ abilities to pay. So, why haven’t they installed these potentially lifesaving technologies en masse?
Any time a question arises with relation to why a cruise line refuses to put passenger safety first, the answer would seem to be profit. But the truth is that the companies are also likely victims of bureaucracy and inertia. For example, despite a rash of recent drownings and near drowning of children in cruise ship swimming pools, most companies have continued to refuse to hire life guards. With the sub-minimum wage salaries that most cruise ship crew are paid, it would pose very little financial burden on the cruise line to staff the pools with lifeguards.
It seems that the best chance the cruising public has to get the cruise lines to step up and put safety first is to demand that they do so. Until the public becomes more aware of the current situation, and begins to speak up, the cruise companies will likely continue with business as usual.
 

 

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It is often said that you can tell the quality of a company by the way it treats its employees. But when it comes to cruise lines their standard of employee care often falls well short.


Many cruise lines, including the major players such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are registered overseas, not only so they are not subject to United States taxes, but also so they do not have to comply with the labor regulations in the U.S.  This means that they can employ staff from all over the world, and often from under developed countries such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The cruise lines can basically treat the staff as they wish with no threat of legal action.
There is no job security, no effective union representation, and most crew have no retirement or other benefits. The cruise lines can make the staff work as long as they wish, with many working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week for around ten months a year. Most do not have a day off and often there are often no organized rest periods. In some cases, crew members to work up to 20 hours a day, which can lead to severe stress, both physical and mental, and can lead to breakdowns and violent outbursts which can affect passengers.
Some crew members do not even receive a wage as such, but instead rely on the automatic tips which most passengers pay. But some passengers are now refusing to pay the gratuity, and even when it is paid there is no guarantee that the crew members actually receive it. One might think that the crew would rebel, but given the strength of the cruise lines it has proved to be futile in the past. For example, when a group of waiters protested on a Carnival ship, not only were they all fired, but other cruise lines were warned not to employ them. Those that do complain are often terminated, and those who are injured on the job may be terminated as well. Apart from Disney all of the cruise lines based out of the United States have taken the rights away from crew to file lawsuits in the United States.

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Those who fly on long distance flights are used to what is called jet lag, but did you know there is also what is known as cruise lag?


Jet lag happens when you cross at least two time zones and it affects sleep when the internal biological rhythm is disrupted.  Those who go on a cruise can also suffer from jet lag if they have to fly a long way to join the ship, such as from the United States to Europe for example. In order to minimize jet lag, you should try and anticipate the jet lag by going to bed earlier and waking up earlier if you are going eastbound, and the reverse if traveling west bound. When you arrive on board the ship try and stay awake until the local bedtime and spend time outdoors in the sun as that helps to regulate the biological clock. Also ensure you drink plenty of non alcoholic fluids as dehydration makes jet lag worse.
However, when you return from your cruise you could find yourself to be one of those people who suffer from cruise lag, which has several effects.
The first is  a sensation of being dizzy or wobbly and it is called land sickness and can happen when you have been moving for a long period of time, such as on a cruise. The sensation is caused for the same reason as people feel sea sick as it is mixed signals from the eyes and the inner ear. Even though you get off the ship, your inner ear expects there still to be motion but your eyes know you are on land. In most cases it goes away after a few hours or a few days, but for some people it lasts for weeks or even years and for those it is called the Mal de Debarquement syndrome which means feeling ill from leaving a ship. Those most likely to suffer are women between the ages of 40 and 50 and the only way to relieve the symptoms is to be in motion again, either on a car or a ship.
Another element of cruise lag could also be that the body has become used to certain foods and drinks and will continue to crave these even when on land. This can include more caffeine, more alcohol, more food throughout the day and especially sweet things. Try and get back into your normal routine as quickly as possible but there is no need to go completely cold turkey instead slowly reduce the frequency of snacking and the amount of caffeine and alcohol over a few days or a week.

 

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A man has been removed from a cruise ship and left to pay his own way home for throwing a cigarette overboard.


Mark O’Keefe, aged 57 and his wife Debra, both from Perth, Australia, were passengers on board a P&O cruise ship which left on June 6 from Fremantle, Western Australia on a 10 day cruise to Bali.
He went on deck to smoke a cigarette but because the weather was very bad, he only took two puffs, extinguished the cigarette and then without thinking he threw it overboard. However he was spotted by a security officer and he apologized, was told to return to his cabin, and that it was the end of the matter.
However, that is not what happened as a letter was sent to his cabin ordering him to attend a meeting with the captain who told him he would be taken off the cruise ship. According to O’Keefe’s daughter he was taken off the ship on an island and then took a small aircraft to Denpasar in Bali, from where he had to find his own way back to Perth
Unfortunately, O’Keefe is suffering from cancer and his wife administered all of the medication he took on a daily basis. But they did not have sufficient funds for her to leave with him and so she remained on the cruise.
P&O would not comment on the incident apart from stating that one of the highest priorities on a cruise ship was fire safety, and that passengers were warned about the dangers of throwing cigarettes over the side of the ship. In addition, the website states that although there are smoking areas on board a ship, there are penalties for those who throw cigarettes overboard which include confinement or being put ashore.
However, O’Keefe’s daughter maintains that P&O should not have left her father to return alone, given his state of health. The cruise line says that they do have procedures in place to assist those guests who are told to leave, and these include making travel arrangements for them. However, the O’Keefes maintain this did not happen in this case, and are alleging that P&O customer service are now refusing to speak to them.

 

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On Monday, June 13, the Carnival Liberty left Galveston, but just a few hours after leaving it had to return to port.


It appears that a family from College Station was taking photographs near a rail when their three year old child slipped through the rail and down from the 14th deck to the 12th. The girl was taken to the medical center where they took to decision to return to shore.
On the ship’s return the child was taken by paramedics into an ambulance and taken to hospital where she is said to be stable but suffering from a broken jaw. The ship then resumed its cruise but the schedule may have to be changed due to the late departure.
Taking a child on a cruise may sound like a great idea and leave children full of excitement but the number of potential dangers should not be overlooked. Children need to be constantly supervised especially in swimming pools as there have been several cases of drowning or near drowning on cruise ships. In addition, young children can often not read any warning signs which make a cruise ship especially dangerous for them.
Apart from the obvious physical dangers such as falling through railings, or drowning there are other hidden dangers such as sexual molestation by crew members which happens all too often, or indeed by other passengers.
In addition there are the health risks to children who are especially vulnerable to diseases such as norovirus as their immune systems are not as well developed as those of adults.
Any parent or guardian taking a child on a cruise should be aware of the risks and ensure that the child is well supervised at all times and never left to wander the ship alone.

 

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The third Tropical Storm of the year has arrived in Florida and has prevented the Carnival Paradise from leaving the port of Tampa.


Tropical Storm Colin has maximum winds of 50 mph with higher gusts and having formed in the Yucatan Peninsula it is moving north northeast at around 33 mph across the state of Florida. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 230 miles (370 km) and are mainly to the southeast of the center.
The Carnival Paradise will not be allowed to leave port until the Coast Guard gives the all clear and at this time it is not known when that will be and Port Tampa Bay remains closed. When the decision to leave is made, a harbor pilot will guide the ship into the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was due to cruise on a five night Western Caribbean cruise but the schedule will now be reversed and the first stop will be Cozumel followed by Mexico and then Grand Cayman.
Hurricane season began on June 1 and continues through the end of November. This year is forecast to be an average year with the majority of the major hurricanes occurring from mid August to mid September off the east coast of the United States and mid August to early November in the Western Caribbean.
It is almost impossible to plan a cruise with the certainty of avoiding a hurricane unless you travel outside of the season or outside of the hurricane area. However there are certain places which are less likely to be affected such as what are known as the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), Trinidad and Tobago, and Margarita Island in Venezuela as even though they are in the Caribbean, being right on the edge of the area they rarely experience hurricanes.  
If you are at sea when a hurricane strikes, the captain of the ship will do all he can to avoid it, either by sailing away from the storm or staying in port. Cruise ships have access to the very latest weather forecasting technology so it is rare they are caught right in the middle of the storm. However, given the reach of the winds it is likely there will be rough seas so passengers should ensure they have medication for sea sickness.
If your itinerary changes due to a hurricane, it is unlikely that you will receive any compensation although in some cases the cruise lines do compensate passengers for a shorter trip or missed excursions.

 

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Even though many cruise ships no longer wish to call in to Turkey due to the fear of terrorist attacks, they are being forced to do so due to the closure of the main port of Athens.


The Port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece has come to a standstill due to a strike by port workers who will not let cruise ships dock which means that not only can passengers not see the important and famous sights of Athens, but the ships are force to go to Turkey instead in order to replenish their supplies.
The workers are protesting about the privatization of the port authority and are on rolling 48 hour strikes. Cruises have stopped calling in at the port as there are no services and this is leading to a loss of revenue for the country. Those ships which have cancelled include Carnival Cruises, Seabourn Odyssey and TUI Cruises, Mein Schiff 2. They will sail to Turkey instead and the Celebrity Constellation, with 2,200 passengers on board has said it too will go to Turkey as it is in need of supplies but if the port is open it will call into Piraeus on its return leg.  
This whole situation has not only affected the port of Piraeus but also all of the suppliers to the cruise ships especially as due to the dangerous situation in Turkey and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean it had meant that more and more cruise lines were choosing to call into Athens instead.
The data shows that in 2015, the number of cruise ships and passengers calling into Athens was similar to 2014 but much lower than 2013. Last year there were 4,281 cruise ship arrivals with 4.957 million passengers which compares to the 5.66 million passengers in 2013. The hopes of increased numbers this year have now been dashed.

 

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On Friday, June 3 the Celebrity Infinity crashed into the dock at Ketchikan, Alaska causing millions of dollars of damage.


According to the cruise line, Celebrity Cruises, based in Miami, the cause of the crash was inclement weather and it is known there were strong wind gusts at the time and it appears that the ship’s thrusters were not sufficiently strong the prevent the ship from being pushed into the dock.
The ship, which has room for 2,170 passengers on board, was in the middle of a weeklong cruise between Vancouver and the Hubbard Glacier. It was preparing to moor in Ketchikan, but some passengers on an adjoining vessel said it was coming in high when it crashed into the dock knocking a barrier into the water and causing as much as $3 million in damage to the dock. The ship suffered scrapes to its hull above the waterline which was described by the company as minor and was forced to spend the night in port so that the damage could be repaired. It appears that no one was injured in the incident.
As the ship was approaching it was becoming obvious it would crash into the dock and according to Steve Corporon, director of Ketchikan’s ports and harbors, security personnel at the port, longshoremen,  and Celebrity employees were able to move out of the way to prevent them being crushed or injured.
Corporon went onto say that it will take up to two month before they will be able to repair the dock.

 

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