Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Matter of the Week

Carnival and Disney Cruise Ships Rescue Immigrant Rafters


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In the wake of Carnival Corp. claiming that it is not up to the cruise line to reimburse the Coast Guard for their hard work and resources spent when coming to the aid of distressed ships, one of its vessels, the Carnival Conquest, along with the Disney Wonder, came to the aid of migrant rafters off the coast of the Florida Keys Friday afternoon.

According to the Coast Guard, the two cruise ships spotted “rustic vessels” in separate on Friday afternoon. Carnival issued a statement on the matter, saying the Conquest picked up 13 Cuban nationals roughly 40 miles from Key West and expected to meet with Coast Guard officials near the Keys to transfer the migrants over to CG authorities.

A statement issued by Disney explained the Wonder picked up eight people roughly 45 miles from Key West, but the nationality of the mariners wasn’t revealed. Disney also explained they were working closely with the Coast Guard during the investigation and to help the migrants.

Crews on both cruise ships provided the rescued boaters with food, water and medical attention.

No injuries or deaths were reported, but not much more has been revealed regarding the rescue mission. If the boaters are undocumented non-U.S. citizens, they will most likely be repatriated to their home countries.

Will Carnival ask tax payers to reimburse them for costs associated with the rescue?

Just this weekend, the “Fun Ship” cruise company implied that it expects taxpaying U.S. citizens to cover costs associated with U.S. Coast Guard and Navy rescue missions involving cruise ships.

While these maritime agencies have come to the aid of dozens of cruise ships over the years, Carnival has expressed that it is not the company’s responsibility to reimburse them. Although the Coast Guard and military spend their own resources to assist vessels in distressed, many of which are involved in accidents because of their own negligence or wrongdoing, Carnival appears to be indifferent and refuses to give any financial aid to the organizations.

With regard to the current rescue in which Carnival participated, Carnival President Gerry Cahill made a statement : “We are happy to have come to the aid of these individuals and to support the long-established tradition among the global maritime community of providing assistance to mariners in distress.”

This statement seems to be an attempt at justifying its recent response to Congress when asked whether Carnival would reimburse any of the costs expended by the United States in responding to its disasters. Just days ago, the “Fun Ship” company implied in the letter to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-VA, that it will not be coughing up any money to the agencies for the help they offered when the Carnival Triumph experienced a cruise ship fire that knocked out power and left over 4,200 people stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy spent of $779,914 after offering aid to the Triumph last February. If the company had learned from its previous cruise ship fires, perhaps the accident would have never happened. Unfortunately, a similar incident took place tree years ago, when the Carnival Splendor caught fire in Nov. 2010. In helping the Splendor, both agencies lost upwards of over $3.4 million in rescue mission costs.

Carnival has made it clear that it has no intention of reimbursing maritime rescue costs spent by the Coast Guard and other organizations for either the two cruise ship fire accidents or for any future accidents involving its ships, which these days, seem to be happening on a weekly basis.

Instead, it feels as though U.S. tax payers should pick up the bill. As if the unbearable conditions that Triumph passengers were forced to endure after the cruise ship fire weren’t enough, Carnival thinks that victims should not only be given a measly $500 in compensation for the Triumph debacle, but should actually spend their own hard-earned money to cover costs incurred in cruise ship accidents that most of the time, are the cruise line’s own fault!

While Carnival’s expectations may be in line with other U.S. taxpayers who rely on Federal aid in the wake of a disaster; however, Carnival does not pay U.S. income taxes! This is because Carnival is not a U.S. company; but rather a foreign corporation with its world headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Do Carnival and other cruise lines ever stop to think would happen if there were no maritime rescue and safety agencies to take on the brunt of cruise ship accident and injury costs? How much would cruise companies have to spend on their own repairs and in reimbursement to victims instead of getting richer and richer at the expense of maritime organizations and U.S. tax payers? Enough to probably go out of business or enough to actually work on improving maritime safety fleet-wide to prevent accidents from happening in the first place?

If it weren’t for organizations like the Coast Guard that come to the rescue each time a cruise ship is in distress, every passenger and crewmember onboard cruise vessels would probably be in a lot of trouble and calls to maritime accident attorneys would likely skyrocket.

Carnival Corp. has already been criticized for the Triumph accident and for the disastrous Costa Concordia capsizing in Jan. 2013, which claimed 32 lives because of the captain’s negligent actions in changing the vessel’s course. It seems the company just can’t seem to get out of the spotlight, reporting accidents pretty much on a weekly basis.

Will Carnival ever regain its stance as a “Fun Ship” family cruise line? Who knows?

What we do know is that someone needs to answer to the many maritime accidents that have occurred and it most definitely should not be the victims nor the Coast Guard.

Photo Credit:

Cruise ships rescue migrant rafters –

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