Cruise Ship Accidents, Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Matter of the Week

Carnival Ecstasy Loses Power


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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.

Just as Carnival announced a new fleet-wide protocol that would protect against cruise ships losing power in the event of a cruise ship accident, another vessel has become disabled. According to reports, the 2,056-passenger Carnival Ecstasy briefly lost power while at sea.

The power outage occurred late Wednesday and although it only lasted for roughly 12 minutes, as Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen, claims, this just adds to the slew of several other mechanical mishaps that have been reported on Carnival vessels since the beginning of the year.

First, the Carnival Triumph lost power following a cruise ship accident, setting in motion what has now become a global critique of the “Fun Ship” liner. Losing power wasn’t the worst problem for the more than 4,200 people onboard the Triumph, but the dire shipboard conditions that soon ensued as a consequence.

Passengers were left without air conditioning and had to sleep along the ship’s hallways or up top on the Lido deck, toilets ceased to function and passengers were given plastic bags to use when they needed to go to the bathroom, disease-transmitting sewage and waste began to overflow from deck to deck, and there was barely anything for passengers to eat during the five days it took for the damaged vessel to be towed back to shore.

Then, just days after the Triumph debacle, three other Carnival ships, the Elation, Dream and Legend, all suffered mechanical problems the very same week.

And right when we think things are finally going to turn around for the cruise line, the Triumph breaks loose from its mooring in Mobile, Alabama due to rough winds, leaving many to wonder if the ship was even properly secured in the first place.
Last month, during the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference, Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill claimed the company had already initiated a “comprehensive review” of the entire fleet in order to improve safety features and protect passengers (and crew members) from harm.

“It will take us a little bit of time to complete it but you can rest assured that it is our highest priority in the entire organization, it is the thing we are most focused on and we will come up with some solutions that we can implement across our fleet,” assured Cahill.

Then, just this Wednesday, Carnival announced plans for a massive $300 million fleet-wide upgrade to emergency power systems, fire controls and engine-related electrical components to prevent another Triumph-like accident from taking place again.

However, the attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have posed another reason for the increase in these reported shipboard incidents – “In our opinion, the crew are being overworked to the point where there is an increase in human error leading to an increase in shipboard incidents.” This stems from a trend, starting in 2005, with the enforcement of arbitration clauses which are inserted into the crew contracts by the cruise line to take away the crew’s ability to file grievances in U.S. courts. This effectively allows the cruise lines to act with impunity in degrading crew conditions aboard the ship; including overworking the crew to the point where they are ineffective at performing their duties.

As far as the latest Carnival cruise ship accident is concerned, thus far, no one has reported any injuries, but as each cruise accident lawyer at our firm well knows, lines are notorious for concealing accidents and downplaying their severity level in order to protect themselves from scrutiny and revenue loss.

So far, the only thing we know about the Ecstasy incident was that the vessel was sailing off the coast of Florida when it lost power and, according to Gulliksen, the power shortage was caused by a mechanical problem that was “quickly repaired.”

Rumors have circulated that there was an engine fire on the Ecstasy, similar to that of the Triumph, but Carnival has denied these claims, adding that all hotel services on the ship – including toilets and elevators – are working normally.

The Ecstasy returned to its home port of Port Canaveral this morning as scheduled following a five-day itinerary that began Saturday. We have yet to hear from passengers to see what their side of the story will tell.

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