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“Should I still go on a cruise?”

Cruise ship Lifeboat.jpg

That’s the question many skeptical vacationers are asking themselves these days, with all the cruise ship safety issues surfacing this year. From norovirus to shipwreck and onboard fire, the cruise industry is now under tough scrutiny.

This week, its leaders gather in Miami for the 28th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference, along with 1,000 exhibiting companies and around 11,000 attendees from 110 countries.

The Miami Herald reported that the mood was somber yesterday morning when six cruise industry executives discussed the “State of the Industry” in a two-hour panel session. Safety was the main topic, with questions posed about training, language complications, safety precautions and crisis management. They acknowledged that the incidents and accidents have negatively affected bookings, but stated their hopefulness for a brighter future.

Cruising Statistics at a Glance:
• Florida’s economy sees $6.3 billion in direct spending from the cruise industry.
• The Cruise Lines International Association predicts that 16 million people will vacation on cruise ships this year • Of those 16 million, 3/4 are from North America.
• Cruising makes up about 3% of the vacation sector in the United States.

New Ships This Year:

DISNEY DREAM
• 4,000 passenger capacity
• Disney’s third ship • Sails from Florida’s Port Canaveral to The Bahamas.

CARNIVAL MAGIC
• 3,690 passenger capacity
• Carnival’s 23rd ship
• Sails from Barcelona
• Carnival Cruise Line’s largest ship

Known as the “cruise capitol of the world,” the Port of Miami is home to more cruise ships than any other location. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Crystal and several other lines port their largest cruise ships in Miami. By contract (read the “ticket for passage” issued by the cruise line) most cruise lines require that any case against them be brought in Miami. They also require that these cases be brought within one year, a very short statute of limitation.

Cruise ships are not merely large boats, they are virtual floating cities. These maritime hotels, however, lack fundamental safety policies, protocols, and procedures to protect passengers from harm. They generally fly foreign flags, so they do not have to comply with United States laws. Additionally, antiquated laws and contractual language limiting passenger rights and remedies put travelers in a precarious position and require aggressive litigation. Find out more at LeightonLaw.com.