While it is no secret that hundreds of incidents occur on the high seas each year, the public is not always told the real story behind each cruise ship injury, passenger disappearance, sexual assault incident, or fatality. Although cruise lines are required by maritime law to provide a reasonably safe environment for everyone onboard, maritime safety isn’t something that has been maintained across cruise companies around the world. The unfortunate truth behind cruise ship incidents is that many times they rarely become public knowledge due to the intricate passenger contract tickets protecting the lines.
Ticket contracts bestow cruise lines with authority to pretty much create their own rules and regulations and avoid liability for any accidents that occur onboard or while their vessels are in port. Additionally, because most cruise ships fly foreign flags and are registered outside of the United States, our strict U.S. maritime laws don’t always apply to criminal investigations or accident cases. Instead, it’s the foreign government whose flag the ship flies that will be responsible for handling the incidents and they don’t usually give out any information to the loved ones of the victims, let alone the public.
Yet, while cruise lines may try to use technicalities in their contracts to their advantage, it is not enough to stop victims and their loved ones from obtaining justice for their pain and suffering. Cruise lines may not always abide by proper maritime safety protocols and may not always fully protect passengers and crewmembers from harm, but there is help available right now to those who have suffered at the hands of a negligent cruise operator.
The International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) is a nonprofit association that was created to represent maritime victims and their loved ones and help them obtain justice when cruise lines work to prevent it.
The ICV was founded in 2006 by Kendall Carver, Son Michael Pham, Jean Scavone and the George Smith Family who all had lost loved ones in cruise ship incidents. This organization now has members and friends in 24 countries around the world. Kendall serves as Chairman and Jamie Barnett, who also lost a daughter, serves as President. Son Michael Pham, who lost both parents, serves on the Executive Committee.
ICV was created to help families and victims who have suffered due to the negligence and misconduct of cruise ship operators who have failed to take legal responsibility for investigating crimes onboard their vessels.
The organization works to offer assistance and support to anyone who has been affected by a cruise ship crime or incident, and who feel that they have had their rights violated by cruise lines and have failed to have their concerns addressed.. ICV is also dedicated to gathering information regarding cruise ship safety worldwide and lobbies for global reform in the cruise ship industry.
On the organization’s site, members share their cruise ship horror stories in hopes to bring the many maritime accidents and incidents that take place onboard vessels to light and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. ICV features personal stories of victims and their loved ones, as well as updates for legal cases. Stories include real incidents involving cruise ship injuries and illnesses, missing passengers, cruise ship sexual assault, and a variety of other maritime crimes that have been buried by the cruise lines.
Membership to the ICV is open to anyone who has been involved in a cruise ship crime themselves or who has had a loved one suffer an injury or fatal incident. Cruise ship crewmembers can also join the ICV and can share their own experiences involving incidents and crimes that have occurred while in the service of their vessels.
The stories shared on the ICV website also help victims and their loved ones obtain the courage to seek legal help with a cruise ship lawyer to fight for the damages they rightfully deserve. Our attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have worked with several victims and loved ones who are part of the ICV and hope that together, we can bring to light the issues surrounding the lack of safety onboard cruise lines so that hopefully one day in the near future, serious incidents and crimes will be prevented altogether.
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman salute the ongoing and difficult efforts of the ICV in making cruising safer for passengers and crew. In the face of daunting odds they have achieved much in the short time they have been inexistence. We would encourage others to join, donate funds, and to get involved. We all have the same goal.