CARNIVAL GIVES CRUISE LINES A BLACK EYE

vals-most-serious-problem-came-in-january-2012-the-costa-concordia-operated-by-a-carnival-subsidiary-ran-aground-off-the-coast-of-italy-and-partially-sunk.jpgCruising is one of the most popular ways to vacation for families. It is the most inexpensive way to vacation with all inclusive sleeping, eating, swimming, entertainment and most important sightseeing islands or countries (very reasonable way to see Europe). When vacationing with a family, everyone has something to do while on the ship (even camp for children). The only separate costs are beverages and excursion trips at port. All these amenities at an inexpensive flat rate for the entire family.

Unfortunately, Carnival Lines has met a series of disasters that have given the cruise line companies a bad reputation. Some 5 – 6 years ago I was on a Carnival cruise of the Western Caribbean. One night we heard a loud bang. Apparently, one or more of the engines stopped working. The announcement the following morning was that the ship would travel at half speed and one of the island stops had to be eliminated (skipped Cozumel). Fortunately, there was still enough engine power to continue the cruise.

In January, 2013, the Carnival ship Triumph had a fire in the engine room which left the ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Carnival had to tug boat the ship to a port in Texas. The press interviewed passengers while there were stranded and horrible pictures were produced with passengers sleeping on the deck, toilets overflowing, no water and cold food. A week of press on how a fantastic vacation cruise turned into a nightmare for 4,000 passengers. Unfortunately, this was the third public disaster for Carnival.

A woman from Texas filed a lawsuit on February 21, 2013 in Galveston, Texas claiming a “horrifying and excruciating ordeal”. I am sure this lawsuit will turn into a class action for all passengers to join the suit.

Another Carnival disaster was the ship that came so close to shore in Italy that it struck a large rock cluster. The ship filled with water and came to rest on its side. Many people died and the Captain allegedly left the ship before the passengers.

A third Carnival mishap was a recent ship that lost some of its power and had to cut out many island stops (just like the cruise I was on). The bad publicity about poorly maintained ships that Carnival owns continues. One of the main reasons for these cruise nightmares is that the cruising industry fills these huge ships to capacity, 4,000 – 10,000 people and the ships are not given any down time. As soon as they end one cruise, they use the same ship to start a new cruise the same day as the ship docks or the next morning.

What most people don’t know is that their agreement with the cruise line is on their ticket. The ticket has many legal pitfalls to cut short a passengers ability to sue. These agreements (located on the ticket) only give a passenger 1 year to sue. Most states have a 3 – 4 year statute of limitations. The ticket also limits the places where cruise lines can be sued. No matter where the incident occurs, you have to go to Miami or Fort Lauderdale Florida to sue. A large inconvenience for most passengers. Further, the ticket (your contract) limits dollar amounts that can be claimed. For example, on property damage (personal objects destroyed or lost due to the cruise lines negligence) can and most times limit the dollar amount you can recover regardless of your actual loss. Most cruise lines even have a dollar amount for personal injury ($50,000 – 400,000). Most Florida courts do not allow dollar limits for personal injury claims but do enforce property damage dollar limits.

If you or a family or friend has been a victim of cruise line negligence, contact Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC, who is licensed in the State of Florida and participates with Florida attorneys who specialize in suing cruise lines.