Cruise Passenger S.O.S., Cruise Ship Accidents, Cruise Ship Law

Father Of Autistic Boy Blames Norwegian Cruise Line For “Losing” Him


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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.

There are times in which the cruise ship accident attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have represented passengers who have been injured while onboard a cruise line. However, one recent incident aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel has authorities wondering whether the terms that define an “accident” might be reevaluated.

Months after taking a cruise vacation aboard the Norwegian Epic, the father of an 11-year-old autistic boy is still searching for answers after his son disappeared from the vessel’s Kid’s Club.

The incident took place on Nov. 23, 2012, after Richard Zelden and his wife dropped off their three children at the ship’s Recess Kid’s Club before going to dinner. When they returned to their cabin two hours later, they found their eldest son, an 11-year-old autistic boy, in a cabin two doors down where the cabin steward watched over him. The Zeldens are now asking for an explanation as to how the crew could have possibly failed to notice that a young boy disappeared from the Kid’s Club.

“We were taken aback as we knew he had been signed into the Kid’s Club and did not have signing privileges to exit alone,” said Zelden to Cruise Critic.

The steward explained he had been cleaning the Zeldens’ cabin when the boy came into the room alone. Unsure of what to do, he called his supervisor to report the child’s arrival and was told to take care of him until his parents arrived.

Immediately after discovering their son, Richard Zelden went to the Kids’ Club to get some answers and the reaction he received was nothing short of appalling.

“They were dumb-founded,” said Zelden of the crew’s reaction. “They didn’t even know he was missing.”

Zelden went on to explain that the youth director offered his apologies, but had no explanation as to how his son could have possibly escaped without being noticed.
Norwegian did follow up with an investigation of the incident, and explained those who were negligent in taking care of the child have been reprimanded.

“We have conducted an extensive review of the situation and took corrective action with the crew members who were involved. We have extended our sincerest apology to the family and offered them compensation,” said AnneMarie Mathews, a Norwegian spokeswoman.

Perhaps the worst part about the incident is that the young boy could have suffered extensive injuries or may have even fallen overboard. The fact that he is autistic should have led the crewmembers of the club to take extra care of him and ensure he didn’t get hurt. The Zeldens may have a case against Norwegian and might benefit from the expertise of a cruise ship accident lawyer.

Zelden told Cruise Critic he is still searching for an explanation as to how his son could have possibly gotten out of the children’s facility and found his way from Deck 14 Forward to the cabin on Deck 11 Aft. His main concern is the fact that he and his wife are outraged that their son was not protected.

“This is the safety of a child that’s involved,” argued Zelden. “We are grateful that he didn’t go up to Deck 15 to the pool area.”

Zelden was only given a $1,500 voucher for future cruise credit, which he will never collect because the credit was only offered if the family signed a nondisclosure agreement.

This isn’t the first time a cruise line has been found guilty of negligence. Luckily, the young boy wasn’t hurt, but the family may still be able to recover damages for pain and suffering. Anyone who has been involved in a similar situation has the right to turn seek legal assistance to file a negligence claim against the cruise line in question.

Our cruise accident attorneys have over 165 years of combined experience in maritime law matters and are available to help victims obtain justice for their pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one needs assistance in filing a case against a cruise line, contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss how we can protect your rights.

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