Cruise Ship Accidents

Bermuda Officials Claim Heritage Wharf Will Be Ready By Next Spring, But Critics Have Construction Concerns


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Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers know that construction mishaps are one of the main leading causes of injuries at sea and in port for both passengers and crewmembers. Norwegian Cruise Line also understands that an unstable dock can lead to severe accidents, which is something that has concerned the company’s officials about Bermuda’s Heritage Wharf. Norwegian’s new Breakaway ship is scheduled to dock at Heritage Wharf on May 15, but Bermuda officials are not concerned. Authorities claim that the dock will be ready by the time the vessel arrives.

However, cruise officials are not convinced. At a Progressive Labour Party press conference yesterday, Transport Minister Walter Roban did not address the construction issues Heritage Wharf had been experiencing. What he did say of the two-year-old facility was that it has brought in a lot of revenue and has exceeded earning capacity expectations.

“We created the new Heritage Wharf which has brought in over $100 million in revenue, meeting our expectations and earning revenue well beyond what we paid for it,” said Roban.

However, cruise industry stakeholders have expressed concern since last week, when news broke that modifications to the wharf had not yet commenced. To top it off, the seawall on which the wharf sits is not stable. The work to modify the wharf can take as long as six months and cost as much as $10 million, not including what it will take to fix the seawall. The seawall has been destabilized by marine construction work in an effort to create a Marine and Ports docking area on the basin side of the north arm. The seawall also has sustained erosion damage caused by cruise ship thruster engines.

Yet, Norwegian officials don’t seem too alarmed by the construction problems the wharf is facing.

“Bermuda officials have assured us that improvements being made to the pier for Norwegian Breakaway will be done in time for the ship’s arrival in May 2013,” said AnneMarie Mathews, vice president of public relations at Norwegian Cruise Line.

The stakeholders, on the other hand, are worried that the modifications and repairs to the wharf will not be completed in time for the Breakaway’s first call. They claim too much work needs to be done and that the cruise industry is taking a lax “wait and see” approach to the issue.

If the wharf does not address all the construction concerns, it will not be safe for passengers and crewmembers. Accidents can happen even in the most stable of conditions, but seawall issues and construction problems can create a hazardous environment, leading to severe injuries. If Norwegian proceeds with docking at a port that is not structurally sound or safe, they may be held responsible for any injuries incurred by their passengers and crewmembers.

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