Recently in Cruise Ship Passenger Injury Law Category

November 6, 2015

A 35-year-old passenger has gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Oasis of the Seas


A search by the Coast Guard is underway after a 35-year-old male passenger from Brazil fell into the ocean. It appears the man lost his grip while hanging from a davit used to raise and lower the cruise ship's lifeboat. The incident occurred at approximately 1:00 a.m. Friday morning when the ship was some 80 nautical miles northeast of Mayaguana, Bahamas.

According to the Coast Guard, it has received multiple reports of the man falling or jumping, but it has been unable to confirm whether he actually fell or jumped. Royal Caribbean released a written statement claiming that the man "was spotted by Oasis of the Seas crew members intentionally going over the side of the ship." A video posted by CBSMiami shows the man holding onto the davit and several people trying to help him before he loses his grip and falls into the ocean. It does not show whether the man jumped or fell into the lifeboat.

The Coast Guard began its search at 4:00 a.m. this morning and was using its "algorithms and drift techniques to see exactly where he could be at now, given the drift pattern hours later, to search in that area for him." Shortly after the incident occurred, the Oasis of the Seas remained in the area to conduct its own search, including sending out two smaller ships to assist. The ship is scheduled to return to Port Everglades on Saturday.



October 30, 2015

60-year-old crew member arrested for molesting 15-year-old girl aboard Costa Diadema


LA SPEZIA, Primocanale, an Italian news station, has reported that a cleaner working aboard the Costa Diadema sexually molested a 15-year-old-girl on October 23, 2015. The crew member's name was not released by the Italian news station. However, he was identified as a 50-year-old man from Honduras. According to the Italian news station, the minor girl was traveling aboard the Costa Diadema with her aunt and uncle. On the day of the assault, she apparently returned alone to her cabin after dinner. Once inside the cabin, the crew member somehow entered her cabin and allegedly began touching and kissing the girl. She was thankfully able to escape and reported the assault to her aunt and uncle. The Costa Diadema was in port at the La Spezia terminal when the assault occurred. The crew member was arrested after Costa notified the police of the assault.

It has also been reported that just two months ago, in August 2015, a bar tender also working aboard the Costa Diadema was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old passenger.



October 21, 2015

56-Year-Old Cruise Passenger dies after falling during a Zip-Line Excursion in Puerto Rico

Police have just released information on the October 15, 2015 death of a cruise ship passenger during a shore excursion in Puerto Rico. The passenger, identified by police as Marsha Boekeloo, was a 56-year-old woman from New Mexico. According to police, she fell 20 feet from a zip-line at the Hacienda Campo Rico, located east of Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan. Media reports state that immediately after falling, Boekeloo complained of chest pain and was unable to move her legs. She tragically passed away hours later at a hospital.

The zip-line tour was run by a San Juan based tour company named Ecoquest Adventures & Tours. According to the company's owner, the park where the zip-line tour was conducted was certified by the Association for Challenge Course Technology ("ACCT"), based out of Illinois. The tour company owner has also been quoted saying that all tour guides are trained in first aid, rescue and risk management and that the park is regularly inspected by the tour guides. The ACCT's executive director James Borishade has said that the company's membership with the ACCT actually expired last year. According to Borishade, adventure parks such as Ecoquest, should have yearly third-party inspections. Unfortunately, there is no agency or body to monitor and ensure that yearly inspections are in fact done. It remains unknown what caused Boekeloo to fall and whether the park had undergone a previous third-party inspection. The name of the cruise ship aboard which Boekeloo was traveling also remains unknown.

General maritime law requires cruise lines to warn of known dangers in places where its passengers are invited or expected to visit. General maritime law also requires cruise lines to properly vet the tour operators and excursions offered aboard its cruise ships. This legal obligation is prudently designed to provide cruise passengers with the necessary knowledge and information to make an informed decision as to activities while in ports of call. When a cruise passenger seeks compensation for an injury occurring at a port of call, cruise lines generally seek dismissal of this type of claim. These requests for dismissal are met with varying success. If, however, facts exist showing that the cruise line knew or should have known of a danger with a specific tour operator and/or excursion but failed to warn its passengers, then courts are likely to allow such claims to proceed.

This photo of Northwoods Zip Line is courtesy of TripAdvisor



October 8, 2015

30-Year-Old Female Passenger aboard Norwegian Breakaway is Medevaced by U.S. Coast Guard

Coast_Guard_Medevac_NCL_Breakaway.jpgThe United States Coast Guard ("USCG") medevaced a 30-year-old woman sailing aboard the Norwegian Breakaway earlier this week. The USCG reported that the medevac took place approximately 165 miles east of Virginia Beach. The woman was reported to have been suffering abdominal pain. The medevac operation was launched from the Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City and included an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 aircraft crew. The crew retrieved the passenger together with a ship's nurse and transported them to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. According to the Coast Guard News, the woman was in stable condition.

SOURCES and PHOTO CREDIT: Coast Guard News at

October 2, 2015

Coast Guard Rescues 80-Year-Old Woman Sailing aboard Carnival Pride

medevac_rescue_ 80_year_old_woman_aboard_Carnival_Pride.jpgThis past Saturday, the United States Coast Guard ("USCG") rescued an 80-year-old woman sailing aboard the Carnival Pride. The USCG, Sector North Carolina, received an emergency call that the woman was experiencing health complications. The USCG helicopter arrived at approximately 3:15 p.m. The helicopter crew was able to hoist the woman from the cruise ship onto the helicopter, where she was then flown to Carteret General Urgent Care in Morehead City, NC. According to the latest media reports, the woman remains in stable condition. No further information has been released regarding the unspecified health complications the woman suffered while sailing aboard the Carnival Pride.



September 18, 2015

Two Arrested on the Carnival Pride as Cruise Ship Returned to Baltimore

Port of Baltimore.jpgU.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested two cruise passengers on outstanding warrants as they returned to Baltimore from a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Pride. Christopher Turner, 45, of Lanham, Maryland was wanted for failing to appear in court on assault charges, while Christopher Main, 28, of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania was wanted for contempt of court and theft. The two passengers were traveling separately. Steve Sapp, a spokesperson for Custom and Border Protection, issued this warning, "If you do know that you have an outstanding arrest warrant, you need to know that we're going to know that you're on that ship." This statement is interesting. If the government knows that a fugitive will be on a certain cruise, why is the government and the cruise lines not working together to arrest the person while he attempts to board the cruise ship at the port on embarkation? It stands to reasons that passengers' safety would be better suited by arresting accused criminals before they embark the cruise ship than allowing them to sail with vacationing families. Both men were turned over to Maryland Transportation Authority Police for adjudication.

Photo Credit: MDBIZNews

September 16, 2015

Injured Woman Taken off Boston Based Cruise Ship

Norwegian Gem Injury.jpgThe United States Coast Guard reports that a crew from its Cape Cod Air Station medevaced an injured woman off the Boston based Norwegian Gem. The cruise ship operated by NCL was traveling from Boston to Nassau in the Bahamas on Sunday morning when watchstanders received a call that a 69-year-old passenger was suffering from possible internal injuries. The injured passenger was hoisted onto a Coast Guard Jayhawk MH-60 helicopters 56 miles off Nantucket Island and taken to Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis. She was then reportedly taken to Cape Cod Hospital for further medical treatment by ambulance. At the time of this posting, the passenger's condition is unknown.

September 8, 2015

Fire Erupts aboard Carnival Cruise Ship

carnival-liberty_fire-erupts.jpgOn Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2015, an engine-room fire erupted aboard the Carnival Liberty, a cruise ship carrying over 3,300 passengers and 1,100 crew. Authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are still investigating the cause of the fire, which remains unknown. Various media reports have stated that the fire ignited in the ship's aft engine room while the ship was moored at the pier in St. Thomas, USVI. It is reported that the ship's crew was able to extinguish the fire with the ship's carbon dioxide and Hi-Fog fire suppression systems. No injuries have been reported as a direct result of the fire.

As of Tuesday morning, the ship had not resumed its scheduled itinerary sailings in the Caribbean to ports in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. The ship left from San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 6, 2015 and was originally scheduled to return to San Juan on September 13th. Carnival released a statement claiming that all hotel services on the ship, including air conditioning, elevators, toilets and galleys, were fully functional. However, experts and authorities are still assessing the nature and extent of the engine-room fire.

This is the second reported fire aboard a cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean. Back in July, a fire erupted aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship while the ship sailed into Jamaica. Reports claimed that one crewmember was injured as a result of the fire.



August 19, 2015

Passenger's Hip Injury Causes Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas to Return to Port

Liberty of the Seas Accient Attorney.bmpBermuda's Department of Marine and Ports reports that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Liberty of the Seas was forced to return to port just hours after departing last Saturday due to a passenger injury. The Liberty of the Seas contacted the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre around 9:00 pm informing it that the cruise ship was returning to the Island because a 74-year-old female passenger sustained a hip injury and hospital treatment was necessary. The injured woman, along with a medical professional from the ship, was transported to an awaiting ambulance by a pilot boat. After the passenger was landed, the ship's medical professional returned to the Liberty of the Seas and the cruise ship continued its voyage to St. Maarten.

August 17, 2015

Teenage Boy is reported to have been sexually assaulted by a Stateroom Steward working aboard the Carnival Valor

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrested a Carnival Cruise Lines Stateroom Steward on Saturday, August 15, 2015 when the vessel arrived at Port Canaveral, Florida. According to various media reports, a 46-year-old Honduran national named Yovany Sauzo-Batiz sexually assaulted a teenage boy under the age of 16 while the boy was in a public shower area aboard the vessel. Reports claim that Sauzo-Batiz first made efforts to engage the boy in conversation while the boy was at the vessel's sauna. The boy then tried to get away from Sauzo-Batiz and walked to the shower area but Sauzo-Batiz followed and allegedly assaulted him.

Shortly after the assault is reported to have occurred, the boy's father, with the assistance of other fellow passengers, detained Sauzo-Batiz until ship security arrived on scene. Carnival Cruise Lines reported the sexual assault before the vessel arrived at Port Canaveral. As a result, Brevard County Deputies were waiting at the port and were able to apprehend and arrest Sauzo-Batiz.

Sauzo-Batiz has been charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation. He was arraigned this past Sunday where his bond was raised from $95,000 to $135,000, as Sauzo-Batiz, according to the State, is a flight risk. Sauzo-Batiz was ordered to turn over his passport and to refrain from having any contact with the boy or the boy's family. As of Sunday, August 16, 2015, Sauzo-Batiz remained at the Brevard County Jail.

A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson has stated that "All crewmembers undergo background checks and are provided the appropriate seaman's visa." It is unknown whether the appropriate background check was undertaken in the case of Sauzo-Batiz. It is also unknown whether any third parties may have witnessed the alleged assault.

In July 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") legislation, legislation that was designed to improve the security and safety of passengers aboard cruise ships such as the Carnival Valor. Under the CVSSA, cruise lines are required to report all sexual assaults, rapes, and other violent crimes to the appropriate authorities. This includes the filing of reports of all rapes and sexual assaults with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Despite the above legislation and to the detriment of unsuspecting passengers, passenger assaults on cruise ships continue. The FBI is also investigating this incident, and Carnival Cruise Lines has said that it provided "full support" to the victim and is cooperating with law enforcement.




August 7, 2015

Passenger Medevaced from Carnival Miracle off San Diego

Coast Guard Rescue Cruise Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 35-year-old female passenger off the Carnival cruise ship Miracle last Friday. This ship was several miles off the coast of San Diego when the rescue occurred. Media reports indicate that the woman was experiencing sever abdominal pain. The pain was so great that the ship contacted the Coast Guard for assistance. the Coast Guard flight surgeon on duty recommended that the passenger be medevaced. The woman was hoisted off the cruise ship and flown to a San Diego area hospital to receive additional care. Her condition is currently unknown.

June 28, 2015

Eight Holland American Line Cruise Passengers Tragically Die While on an Alaskan Shore Excursion Sight-Seeing Tour

Alaska_Plane_Crash_Kills_9.jpgEight Holland American Line cruise ship passengers tragically died on Thursday, June 25, 2015 when a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter float plane crashed, some 25 miles northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The crash occurred at approximately 2:00 p.m., at about 800 feet above a lake in the Misty Fjords area. Onboard the sightseeing flight at the time of the crash were the eight cruise passengers plus the pilot. Despite some investigation by authorities, the cause of the horrible crash into a cliff has not yet been identified. Alaska State Troopers, however, have identified the victims as: Hal Cheney, 71 and Mary Doucette, 59, both of Lodi, California; Glenda Cambiaso, 31 and Hugo Cambiaso, 65, both of North Potomac, Maryland; June Kranenburg, 73 and Leonard Kranenburg, 63, both of Medford, Oregon; Margie Apodaca, 63 and Raymond Apodaca, 70, both of Sparks, Nevada; and the pilot, Bryan Krill, 64, of Hope, Idaho.

All eight passengers were sailing on the MS Westerdam, a Holland American cruise ship that departed Seattle, Washington on Saturday, June 20, 2015 for a seven-day round-trip cruise. News outlets have reported that the sightseeing airplane ride was a shore excursion sold through the cruise line Holland American Line. The actual float plane is owned by a company named Promech Air, self-identified as the largest "air taxi" operating in southeast Alaska for 30 years. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, just two years ago in 2013, another Promech Air float plane crashed on Prince of Wales Island, injuring four people. It is unknown whether Holland American Line was aware of this prior incident.

Generally, shore excursions sold through a cruise line contain exculpatory clauses that purport to relieve a cruise line and/or a shoreside excursion company from any liability resulting from an accident or injury that may occur during a shoreside excursion. While narrow and unambiguous exculpatory clauses have been enforced by certain courts in favor of cruise lines and shore excursion operators, cruise lines may still be held responsible for the negligent selection of a shore excursion company. We will continue to follow the investigation into this devastating crash, including whether Holland American Line was aware of Promech Air's prior incident but nevertheless continued to offer and sell the company's tours to its cruise ship passengers.

Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the families of the crash victims.



June 3, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Lines Allowed to Challenge Better Business Bureau's "F" Grade in Court

Florida Carribean Cruise.jpgAfter receiving an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau of Palm Beach County (BBB), Caribbean Cruise Lines filed a complaint against the consumer protection organization alleging defamation and violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FUDTPA). The trial court dismissed both claims finding the letter grade is pure opinion which is protected by the First Amendment and therefore cannot a claim for deformation cannot stand as well as the cruise line did not have standing to bring a FDUTPA claim. Caribbean Cruise Lines appealed the decision.

In a multiple paged opinion, the Florida appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the defamation claim but reversed the dismissal of the FDUPTA claim. The appellate court, without making a determination as to whether the BBB violated the Act, found the trial court erred in its legal finding that Caribbean Cruise Line had not standing to sue. "Standing" is the legal principal that affords a person or company the right to bring a lawsuit. The BBB argued that only consumers of BBB's services have standing, and since the cruise line cannot be a consumer of its services, has no standing to bring a claim. The appellate court found this to be an incorrect statement of law. In doing so, it compared a previous version of the statute which read, "In any individual action brought by a consumer who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such consumer may recover..." with the current version which reads "In any individual action brought by a person who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such person may recover..." The appellate court reasoned that by rewording the statute, the Florida legislature no longer intended FDUPTA to apply to only consumers, but to other there persons and legal entities who were damaged and could prove the elements of the claim as well. As such, Caribbean Cruise Lines has the right to challenge its "F" grade placed by the BBB and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Caribbean Cruise Lines is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale and operates cruises from Palm Beach County Florida to the Bahamas. The company made widespread headlines last year when its cruise ship, the Bahamas Celebration, ran aground Free Port causing several hundred people to be evacuated.

May 21, 2015

Boston Based NCL Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship Runs Aground

Norwegian Dawn Grounding.jpgHow does a modern cruise ship run aground? That is what maritime investigators will be trying to sort out over the coming months in the case of Boston based Norwegian Dawn grounding on a charted reef off the Bermuda coast. The liner had just left King's Wharf on Hamilton Island to start its last leg of its voyage back to Boston when it grounded. Though no reports have been made as to the exact number of people who were aboard, the Norwegian Dawn can carry more than 2,000 passengers and up to 1,059 crew members. What makes this grounding noteworthy is that this ship is not a rust bucket in its last stages of useful life owned by a nearly defunct shipping company. On the contrary, this cruise ship is equipped with sophisticated electronic navigational and steering equipment as well as depth recorders which sound warnings when entering dangerously shallow waters. Again, how does a modern cruise ship run aground?

Typically there are three reasons: environmental, equipment failure, and human error. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., the ship's operator which is based in Miami, blames the marine casualty on an equipment failure, more specifically, a malfunction of the steering system. The Norwegian Dawn is no stranger to equipment failures. In 2013, a power failure left the ship dead in the water for hours and in 2009 a power failure left the cruise liner without running water, air conditioning and working toilets. Though NCL blames the grounding on equipment failure, it fails to mention whether the navigational officers could have prevented the incident when they knew or should have known the steering system was not properly working. These issues will be investigated and a governmental report will follow.

More worrisome than the ship's checkered past regarding power failure are the reports of how the crew reacted in the moments after the grounding. The Associated Press reports that passengers observed some "crew members running around in a panic". This suggests a lack of training in emergency situations on the part of NCL. Lack of crew training was a significant contributing factor to the loss of life in the Costa Concordia disaster as several news outlets reported that the crew admitted they were not trained to evacuate passengers. It would stand to reason, that in the wake of such a maritime disaster as Costa Concordia, a major cruise line would conduct regular crew training for emergency situations.

Cruise lines owe their passengers the legal duty of reasonable care. This means performing periodic systems checks and emergency drills to determine whether the ship is sufficiently seaworthy to safely carry passengers and its officers and crew properly trained to act in a reasonable prudent manner when an emergency occurs. Time will tell if NCL met this legal standard.

Photo Credit: International Business Times

April 21, 2015

Three Passengers Medevaced Off Holland America Cruise Ship to Miami Area Hospitals

Three passengers aboard a Holland America cruise ship Ryndam were medevaced to Miami-area hospitals Monday night due to unrelated medical emergencies. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue revealed that one passengers sustained a leg injury, another suffered a head injury and the third had a heart related condition. Holland America, based in Seattle, Washington, confirmed the passengers aboard the Ryndam required medical evaluations, but did not provide additional details. It is very unusual to have three passengers medevaced off a cruise ship at one time. Local Miami Fox News affiliate reports that one of the passengers was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and another taken to Mercy Hospital.

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