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

What Does Carnival Think of Lax Cruise Ship Safety Allegations? Absolutely Nothing


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Lipcon, Margulies & 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.

For many years, each cruise accident lawyer at our firm has represented both passengers and crewmembers who were injured, the victims of a crime or who have suffered wrongdoing while in the employ of or under the care of a cruise line. We have seen people lose their loved ones and be given wholly inadequate explanations as to why and we have witnessed several cruise lines deny any responsibility for the tragedies that have occurred under their watch.

Yet, sometimes even the cruise lines can’t hide behind the foreign flags they fly and their wrongdoings are broadcasted by the worldwide media. The recent back-to-back incidents onboard Carnival Cruise Line vessels, starting with the Triumph cruise ship fire in February, have shown the public that when a maritime disaster does take place, ship board life can very quickly turn from fun and glamorous to downright harrowing.

When one debilitating cruise ship accident occurs, one would imagine the cruise company would work diligently to correct the issue and prevent a similar incident from occurring again. However, the truth is the opposite. There is a history of cruise ship fires, including one similar to the Triumph, which erupted on the Splendor in 2010.

The “Fun Ship” line also a bad track record when it comes to missing and overboard passengers, with reports showing that out of 198 persons that were reported going overboard from cruise lines and ferry boats between 1995 and 2013, 92 persons went missing from Carnival Corp. ships. For a line that markets itself as a family-friendly line, Carnival was accountable for 48 of these tragic incidents.

Carnival Corp. is the largest cruise company in the world, and as such, it is not a surprise that the company has the majority of maritime accidents. However, especially as of late, it appears that Carnival-owned ships are experiencing back-to-back issues either with equipment failure, reports of overboard passengers or crewmembers, cruise ship rape, and other alarming tragedies.

According to a government report that was prepared at Sen. Rockefeller’s request, the Coast Guard has come to the rescue of 90 cruise ship accidents that have occurred on Carnival Corp. ships in the past five years alone. And in just one week’s time, three incidents involving equipment failure took place onboard the Carnival Elation, Dream and Legend.

In Carnival’s response to Sen. Rockefeller’s letter seeking answers and explanations from Carnival Mr. Hunn their Senior Vice President of corporate maritime policy dismissed a whopping 83 of these incidents, claiming they did not meet the Code of Federal Regulations’ definition of a “serious marine accident.”

He acknowledged the Triumph and Splendor fires, Costa Concordia capsizing accident which killed 32 people, two other collisions, a case of an airlifted crewmember, and another incident of a passenger jumping overboard as “serious” but ignored all the rapes, assaults and deaths that have taken place on Carnival ships throughout the years? Do these not count?

Here are just two cruise ship incidents that have occurred on Carnival recently:

  • Feb. 2013 – Teen dies from alcohol poisoning onboard Carnival Miracle. How was it even possible for a minor to obtain alcohol onboard a cruise line? Why is there still no cap on the number of alcoholic beverages cruise ship’s bartenders will serve to guest?
  • Oct. 2012 – Carnival Destiny passenger Sarah Alexandra Badley Kirby went overboard and after her friend (who witnessed the incident) and fiancé reported the accident to the ship’s crew, vessel authorities refused to stop the ship immediately citing “protocol and procedures” and the victim had to wait two hours before being rescued.

Yet, because these incidents didn’t gain as much media attention as the Concordia and Triumph cruise ship accidents, they were basically swept under the rug and the cruising public remains at risk.

The logical thing to do following either of these incidents would be to initiate a fleet-wide investigation all rules, protocols and procedures currently in place to see how they can be revised to increase ship board safety and address these problems immediately to prevent any future similar incidents from taking place. Yet, Carnival has not done this. Shortly following the Triumph cruise ship fire, three other Carnival vessels, the Elation, Dream and Legend all experienced technical issues in the same week. What does that say about the line’s commitment to safety?

Will we ever see the day when the cruise industry really is safe for passengers and crewmembers? Probably not.

In the meantime, we here at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are available to assist anyone who has been injured or suffered damages at the hands of the Cruise Industry be it through their negligence or the lack for proper safety measures. We have each represented hundreds of cruise passengers and crewmembers who have been hurt or killed on the high seas or in port, and we know firsthand what a difference it can make in the resolution of claims to have an aggressive and trial proven advocate in one’s corner versus lacking one.

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