Last Update: 01/25/16
Cruises are big here in South Florida: several major cruise lines dock in our local area because our oceanfront location gives cruise ships from top cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean, among others, within fast and easy sailing (absent hurricane weather) of very popular vacation spots including the Bahamas, the Caribbean, various tourist spots in Mexico and through out South America.
People drive and fly into our community from all over the country to board a cruise ship as solo travelers, in tour groups, as families or couples, all looking forward to a memorable and satisfying vacation aboard a swanky and sophisticated ship where crew and staff will tend to their every need.
Unfortunately, some of those cruise vacations will not end happily as Florida injury lawyers are all too aware. Not only do cruise vacations sometimes end with serious accidental injuries or deaths, more and more often the reality is that cruise ship travelers are the victims of crime – sometimes violent and life-threatening crime – aboard the cruise ship.
Crime Reports Released by Several Major Cruise Lines This Week
Four of Florida’s major cruise lines released reports on crimes happening on their cruise ships this week. Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean have provided there internal crime statistics to the public going back three years (to 2010) in response to pressure from legislators and public advocacy groups. Crimes reported include kidnappings, rapes, assaults, even homicide, as well as major thefts and people who have gone missing after boarding the ship.
Note: all the reports are for “alleged” incidents or “allegations” of criminal acts as reported by crew or passengers.
Read the voluntary cruise line reports here:
Disney (Disney does not use the word “crime” here — these are “voluntary allegation reports”)
Total crimes reported by these cruise lines were:
- Carnival (North American cruises only): 127 including 38 rapes and 5 reports of suspicious deaths (07/27/10 -06/30/13)
- Royal Caribbean: 94 crimes (10/2010 – 06/2013)
- Norwegian: 20 crimes (10/2010 – 06/2013)
- The biggest reported crime in these reports? Rape (Sexual Assault).
These crime reports can be compared to those compiled by the United States Coast Guard, where the numbers don’t jive with the industry statistics apparently. Coast Guard statistics have 31 serious crimes from January 2011 to date while there have been a total of 39 crimes reported in the past 7 months according to the data records of Carnival (21), Norwegian (2), and Royal Caribbean (16).
Federal Legislation Proposed: the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013
On Tuesday, Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced legislation to be called “the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013,” with a similar bill going through the House of Representatives under the same name, both designed to force better reporting methods for crimes that happen on cruise ships and to boost protections currently provided by the federal Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.
If this bill becomes law, cruise lines will have to report serious crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) within 4 hours of the event and all cruise ships will be legally required to report crimes immediately to the FBI if they happen before the cruise ship leaves an American port. (Jurisdiction for the FBI ends when the ship sails into the international waterways.)
Florida Negligent Security Laws and Cruise Lines
Cruise lines have special legal protections that other vacation vendors (hotels, spas, etc.) don’t enjoy — not only do cruise lines have international law arguments to make in some situations, they also try and limit their liability to their passengers in the contract language inserted into the passenger’s cruise ticket.
Nevertheless, for crime victims on cruise ships, it is important to learn what state and federal laws may apply to help and assist them in seeking justice from a cruise line whose negligence in security has resulted in the passenger becoming a victim of crime. Florida injury lawyers can help these cruise passengers to get justice and financial compensation from cruise lines who have failed to protect them from harm.
Note: Time may be of the essence here — many cruise lines include language in the ticket that limits the time frame within which to assert an injury claim against the cruise line for money damages based upon an injury on a cruise ship to 1 year (12 months).
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed as a crime victim, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.