Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Crime

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As if a shipwreck, a fire, a gunpoint robbery and intestinal viruses weren’t enough for the cruise industry this year, a Central Florida teenager has filed suit against Carnival Corp. in federal court in Miami, alleging a strip search and more by three employees.

The girl says that during a four-day cruise to the Bahamas, she was accused by a security officer of possessing “a bag with ‘green leaves and substance inside'” as reported by the Miami Herald. Subsequently, three Carnival employees questioned the teen, searched her cabin, and examined her genitals. The complaint says the girl and her mother were removed from the ship and the alleged victim was placed in a holding cell in the Bahamas with an adult woman, where she was assaulted.

Carnival released a statement calling the claims “far-fetched” and “patently false, and obviously made in retaliation for the cruise line disembarking the plaintiff and her mother part-way through the voyage in Nassau…”

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Titanic.jpgONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO THIS MONTH, in April 1912, the legendary RMS Titanic capped off its maiden voyage by colliding with an iceberg and sinking into the Atlantic Ocean. More than 1,500 people were killed and the tragedy was named one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

You’d think that 100 years later, with advances in technological precision that mariners of days past could hardly have dreamed of, cruising would have become a much safer vacation option for tourists, and that preventable cruise ship disasters would be left behind with the bygone era.

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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.

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Resort torts continue in the cruise industry…

Not a Vacation CELEBRATION

The FBI is investigating a passenger reported missing from a Celebration Cruise Line ship, The Sun Sentinel reported. She was last seen in the ship’s casino around 1 a.m. and was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 a.m. The ship was in international waters at the time, after leaving the Grand Bahamas Island port at 6 p.m. the night before. The card-swiping system that records passengers’ whereabouts indicated that she was last registered as being on board.

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A lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit court Tuesday against Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. and its Costa subsidiary seeks $528 million in damages resulting from the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.

The lawsuit names 39 plaintiffs who experienced the shipwreck in the Mediterranean last month in which 17 people have been confirmed dead and 15 are still missing. The damages sought include $78 million in compensatory damages and $450 in punitive damages, reports the Miami Herald.

On the same day, Costa announced that it would compensate passengers 11,000 euros plus reimbursement for cruise ticket costs and extra travel expenses. The deadline for passengers to accept the offer was extended to March 31. Costa released a statement regarding those who suffered the greatest losses:

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Illness has struck an additional 173 passengers and crew members on the same ship – Princess Cruise Line’s Crown Princess – that contaminated nearly 400 people just days ago.

The Miami Herald reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed widespread outbreaks of the illness onboard. After the first outbreak, the ship was to be ‘given special cleanings upon their return to their Fort Lauderdale homeport,” delaying the next cruise, according to an MSNBC report. These specialized cleanings were apparently not enough to eliminate the illness.

Princess Cruise Lines released this statement:

“The enhanced disinfection of the ship in Fort Lauderdale will include bringing aboard additional cleaning crew to assist with a thorough sanitization of all public spaces and surfaces including soft furnishing and carpets, railings, door handles and the like. The staterooms will be sanitized multiple times before making up the rooms with fresh linens and towels on Saturday morning, just prior to passenger embarkation.”

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Resort Torts logo FINAL.jpgResort torts could follow from the more than 450 passengers and 40 crew members aboard the Ruby Princess and Crown Princess cruise ships who came down with norovirus this week, a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus. Fort Lauderdale is the homeport for both ships.

A rash of the virus also broke out this week on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. The severity of the illness and symptoms experienced in these outbreaks has not been revealed but hours of sanitizing the ships were expected to delay the embarkation of passengers for the cruises scheduled to follow.

According to the CDC, “norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions; it can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.”

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Cruise ship at port.jpgThe Costa Concordia shipwreck tragedy in the Mediterranean has sparked a review of safety standards on cruise ships. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced in a press release that it will conduct a hearing in February to review cruise ship safety including operating standards and crew training requirements.

Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) said in the release that “The Costa Concordia tragedy is a wakeup call for the United States and international maritime organizations to carefully review and make certain we have in place all appropriate standards to ensure passengers’ safety on cruise ships.” He said that “The Committee will review the events of this specific incident, current safety measures and training requirements set by law and international maritime transportation agreements to ensure this mode of transportation remains as safe as possible.”

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Two U.S. law firms are filing class-action lawsuits against Costa Cruises, asking for at least $160,000 per passenger involved in last week’s resort tort disaster, according to the BBC. The shipwreck left 11 people dead, hundreds injured, and 21 still missing.

Owned by Miami-based Carnival Group, Costa Cruises blamed the captain of the Costa Concordia for veering off course and crashing into a rock, causing the ship to half sink. The captain has denied the charges of suspected manslaughter, for which he remains under house arrest.

A civil claim is being filed against him in Italy while lawsuits will reportedly be filed in Miami this week against Costa Cruises, with claimants seeking compensation for “continued medical care, loss of earnings as well as the psychological impact they had suffered while trying to get off the ship,” reports the BBC. Liability against the company will point to regular route deviations in the past, lack of safeguards on board, and the alarm system.

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Stormy Cruise Ship.jpgThe Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act signed into United States law in July 2010 seems to be firmly in place, not that it can totally prevent crimes or personal injury.

As the Act requires, Royal Caribbean recently reported an alleged rape aboard one of its ships to the FBI and BSO, and allowed both to investigate the ship and port. The ship’s ‘guest care team’ also offered the alleged victim assistance including medical care and counseling, according to a statement from the cruise line’s manager of Global Corporate Communications, as reported in the Sun Sentinel.

The Sentinel article says that a 15-year-old girl from Iowa said she was lured from a teen dance club on board to a private room, where a 15-year-old boy said there would be a party. Instead, she said, there was only another man there, and the two of them raped her.

Both males live in Brazil, are being held in Broward, and appeared in court last Wednesday. The elder, a 20-year-old, was accused of one count of committing a lewd and lascivious act, ordered not leave the tri-county area and denied access to his or a replacement passport. The younger was charged with lewd and lascivious battery and held at the Broward Juvenile Assessment Center.

The International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about the problems of victimization and disappearances on cruise ships. The organization advocates for legislative reform to protect passengers from crimes and increase the rights of victims of crimes that do occur on cruise ships, and provides support to victims of crimes occurring on cruise ships.

The National Association for Victims of Crimes and the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN) have joined ICV in the effort to promote reform to the Cruise Line Industry.

The National Crime Victim Bar Association is a network of attorneys and allied professionals dedicated to facilitating civil actions brought by crime victims. Crime victims may be able to file civil lawsuits against perpetrators and responsible third parties for the damages the victims suffered as a result of the crime. Personal injury attorney John Elliott Leighton serves on the Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.