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Going on a Cruise? Tips on How to Stay Safe

Did you know that cruising is one of the safest forms of travel?  Most people enjoy cruising without any incidents whatsoever.  However, as with any experience, it can’t hurt to prepare yourself by understanding potentially dangerous situations.  The following are some basic safety tips.

Ask About Medical Facilities Before You Book

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) cruise ships’ medical facilities vary widely.  This is due to several factors, such as passenger demographics, the length of the cruise, the size of the cruise ship, and the itinerary.  There is no governing body responsible for regulating medical care on cruise ships.  The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has established consensus based guidelines for medical facilities on cruise ships.  These minimum requirements for medical facilities and capabilities are as follows:

  • The ability to provide emergency medical care for passengers and crew;
  • The ability to stabilize patients;
  • The ability to initiate reasonable diagnostic interventions;
  • The ability to initiate reasonable therapeutic interventions;
  • The ability to facilitate the evacuation of seriously ill patients and seriously injured patients.

Check the CDC’s Cruise Ship Inspection Report Card

The CDC provides a tool where travelers can review the safety inspection information for a specific cruise ship or an entire cruise line.  Once you select the relevant information, the CDC provides a score based on the last inspection report.  The CDC also provides the date of the last inspection.  Additionally, the CDC provides a list of violations discovered and the recommended course of action the cruise ship or cruise line should take.  Violations range from a food server scooping food into a buffet pan wearing a watch, to empty soap dispensers in public bathrooms, to mooring lines not properly protected against rodents.  Finally, cruise ships are given the opportunity to file a corrective action report, which details how the cruise ship corrected the problem.  This report is also available online.

Use the Ship’s Safe

As a preliminary matter, consider what items you bring with you on a cruise.  Items that are extremely valuable, or that you consider priceless are probably best left at home.  Any jewelry that you do bring on board, as well as your passports should be stored in the ship’s safe.  This is not to be confused with the safe in your room.  The safe in your room is for petty cash for tipping staff, your cell phone, etc.  Understand, however, that you should not use your in-room safe for anything you don’t want or can’t afford to lose.  In room safes have a bypass code.  This code is set by the manufacturers in recognition that: 1. People leave things behind inside in room safes all the time; and 2. People set a code for their in-room safe which they then promptly forget.  For both these reasons, in room safes have a bypass code.  A quality security system would assign a distinct, separate code for each safe.  In reality, many ships (and hotels, for that matter) have a single default code for all safes on board.  Imagine how many crew members are privy to those codes.

Be Mindful of the Crew

Most crew members are honorable citizens who are only interested in your enjoyment on the cruise.  However, just as in the rest of society, there are members of the crew who may be looking to take advantage of you.  Never, ever, ever go with a crew member to the crew quarters.  There are at least two reasons for this: First, this may be part of a set up with other crew members.  By bringing you into crew quarters, you are unquestionably not in your room.  This could be a plan to break into your room, because the crew knows you failed to follow the rule about using the ship’s safe for valuables.  The second reason you may be lured into crew quarters could be due to a crew member’s intent to commit some sort of crime, such as a sexual assault.  Understand inviting a passenger into crew quarters is grounds for immediate dismissal.  This is, in part, for your safety.  If you are invited to crew quarters, decline, and report the invitation as soon as possible.

Pay Attention to the Muster Drill

Safety first.  Before you cruise begins, your attendance is required at the “muster drill.”  This is where you learn critical safety information, such as how to don the lifejackets carried on that particular cruise ship, where your muster station is located, what different types of alarms are utilized, and for what circumstances.  It is unlikely that you will need this information, but the possibility exists.  Don’t text your friends, chat with your spouse, or otherwise engage in distracting behavior.   Your attention is essential.

Understand Door Safety

As a preliminary matter, you may notice the door to your room doesn’t close automatically.  Make sure you firmly close the door, both when you enter and when you leave.  If the door has a lock, use it while you are inside.  If you are lucky enough to have a balcony, good for you.  Be sure to close the balcony door when you are out as well as when you are sleeping.  As nice and romantic as it sounds to fall asleep to the gentle waves of the ocean, awakening to an intruder is a significantly less enjoyable event.  Your safety is paramount.  An open balcony door is almost as enticing as an open cabin door.  Protect yourself by keeping the doors closed and locked.

Reach Out to Our Professional Cruise Ship Attorneys

Unfortunately, some cruises end with negative experiences.  If you have experienced an injury on a cruise ship, or if you became ill on a cruise ship, or if you were assaulted on your cruise, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Our professional cruise ship attorneys in Miami specialize in cruise ship litigation.  Contact us for a free consultation.  There is no fee unless we win your case. Madalon Law has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and West Palm Beach for your convenience.

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Cruise Ship Injuries – Common Dangers on the High Seas and Common Sense Tips to Reduce Your Chance of Injury

There is something magical about vacationing on a cruise ship. Whether the appeal is seeing many different ports on a single trip, the incredible array of food and drinks, or the onboard camaraderie and sense of adventure that cruising provides, there is something for everyone. Unfortunately, cruise ships (like the rest of the world) can be dangerous places. If you or a loved one has been injured on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Cruise ships are considered “common carriers” under the law. Where a cruise ship causes or permits an act prohibited by law, or fails to do something required by law, they can be held liable for the full extent of damages sustained, as well as attorneys’ fees.

Food Poisoning on Cruise Ships

Food poisoning can occur in a number of different ways. Sometimes, the cruise ship inadvertently purchases food, such as lettuce or alfalfa sprouts, that is infected with some strain of a virus that will cause people to become ill. Other times, food is not kept at the correct temperature, which can lead to food poisoning. A third way one can get food poisoning on a cruise ship is based on the bad habits of others. Buffets are common on cruise ships. Imagine the incredible assortment of bad habits which could lead to other people having bacteria on their hands. When they use the buffet serving tools to put food on their plates, they may be also transferring that bacteria onto the serving tools. When you use the same tools, you may introduce that bacteria onto your hands. If you then use your hands to eat, you could introduce that bacteria to your body.

Consider the following to protect yourself: Do not eat food that is being kept at lukewarm temperatures. Hot food should be hot. Cold food should be stored at less than 40 degrees. According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) perishable food should not be kept out for more than two hours. Additionally, consider excusing yourself from the table to wash your hands with soap after you have filled your buffet plate but before you start to eat.

If you experience a fever over 101.5, prolonged vomiting, signs of dehydration, or diarrheal illness, you may be a victim of food poisoning. You should notify the cruise ship immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, even if you are not sure if you have food poisoning. This puts the cruise ship on notice they may have a potential outbreak on their hands. It may also be critical to your subsequent claim.

Slips, Trips, and Falls on Cruise Ships

Slips, trips, and falls are not uncommon on cruise ships. Part of this, of course, can be attributed to the adjustment people sometimes require as they gain their sea legs. Part of this can be because water makes surfaces more slippery. Also, cruise ships have raised thresholds as part of their design. The presence of water or a raised threshold itself may not give rise to a lawsuit. However, as with most parts of the law, it depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding any given incident. Sure, it is reasonable to expect the surfaces surrounding a pool to be wet. But it is not necessarily reasonable that those surfaces will be slippery; different surfaces respond differently to water. It is reasonable to expect that cruise ships will implement the necessary precautions by installing non-slip surface coverings around a pool, or other area that may be more likely to get wet.

Thresholds that are not adequately marked to inform the passenger of their raised presence may also be something a cruise ship could be held liable for. While they must be raised in certain circumstances, cruise ships have an obligation to make certain that the passengers are aware of this potential tripping point.

Another common injury on cruise ships results from falls down stairs. Sometimes, this is because a passenger is careless, rushing, or otherwise not paying attention. Sometimes, it is attributable to the severity of the weather conditions. But falls down stairs can also occur when there is no handrail, or the handrail, while present, has not be installed properly. In addition to improper construction, falls on stairs can occur where the stairs, banister, or stairwell has not been properly maintained.

To reduce the possibility of falling on the stairs on a cruise ship, passengers are encouraged to proceed slowly and with appropriate caution, using the handrail as intended.

It is important to note, however, that passengers are probably not in the best position to determine the cause of their slip, trip, or fall. Consequently, it is best to consult with a lawyer well versed in the requirements of “common carriers” to determine whether the cruise ship either knew or reasonably should have known about the presence of a hazard which could lead to a trip, slip, or fall.

The extent of injuries due to a trip, slip, or fall are not always readily apparent. Sometimes it can take a few days, or even a week, to fully determine the nature and extent of injuries due to a trip, slip, or fall. Consequently, no matter how insignificant it may first appear, if you slip, trip, or fall on a cruise ship, this should be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately, or as soon as practicable. If you have an injury, you should seek treatment from the cruise ship’s medical team. You should also take the time to document your injuries both with pictures and with written description of what happened. You should also take pictures of the area where you slipped, tripped, or fell. Remember that both close up and distance shots are critical in order to appropriately illustrate the scene.

If You Have Sustained an Injury on a Cruise Ship

If you have sustained an injury on a cruise ship, contact the dedicated cruise ship injury attorneys in Florida at Madalon Law to discuss your case. Together we can determine whether you may have a legitimate claim to be compensated for your injuries.

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Cruise Ship Hazards

Many Americans enjoy taking cruises. One of the best things about a cruise is the ability to unpack once, but visit several different destinations. Sunshine, ocean breezes, exotic destinations, food, and drink are just some of the other reasons cruises are so popular.

There can be a downside to cruises, however. Cruise ships bring with them a number of potential hazards, which can be the source of injuries, or even death.
These can include the following:

Assault by a passenger or crew member;
Drowning accidents;
Falling from great heights;
Accidents that occur on excursions;
Outbreaks of diseases;
Running aground;
Modern pirates;
Cruise ship collisions; and
Weather hazards.


Fires onboard a cruise ship are more rare than other hazards, but they do occur. When they occur, they can be terrifying. Fires can cause a great deal of damage to a ship. It also puts passengers at risk from smoke. If a fire starts in the boiler room, for example, the smoke can get into the vent system and put passengers at risk of smoke inhalation.

Assault By a Passenger or Crew Member

Violent assaults do occur on cruise ships, including sexual assaults. Alcohol flows freely on a cruise and some people get violent when they drink. A study has shown that the rate of sexual assault on cruise ships is 50 percent higher than it is on land.

Drowning Accidents

Cruise ships often have hot tubs, pools, wave pools and slides as well as other water attractions. Frequently, these areas do not have lifeguards on duty. This puts guests in danger of drowning. Do not let children use the water attractions without supervision. Also, adults should avoid water attractions after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Near-drowning accidents can also be an issue.

Falling from Great Heights

Falling overboard is the most obvious falling hazard on a cruise ship, but it is not the only one. Cruise ships also have internal ramps, balconies, and other level changes of significant height. This can lead to falls significant enough to cause injury or even death.

Accidents That Occur on Excursions

One of the most exciting things about cruising is the ability to leave the ship and experience exotic port cities and the areas around them. However, injuries can occur if a tour or other excursion experience is operated negligently. Depending on who is operating the excursion and who is negligent, you may or may not have a claim against the cruise line operator. A qualified and experienced attorney can help make this determination.

Outbreaks of Disease

Serious illness can spread throughout a cruise ship rapidly. Passengers use common dining areas and are in close proximity for the duration of the cruise. Onshore excursions can result in passengers being exposed to diseases they then bring back to the ship. Not every cruise ship has effective cleaning protocols, which can also lead to the rapid spread of serious illness.

Running Aground

Although rare, cruise ships have run aground. For example, off the coast of Italy in January 2012, a cruise ship ran aground. The ship was left lying on its side for an extended period of time. 32 people were killed and many more were injured in this incident.

Modern Pirates

Modern pirates are most commonly associated with oil tankers off the coast of Africa than they are with cruise ships. However, pirates have captured cruise ships – particularly smaller cruise ships – in the past. For example, 60 passengers on the Celebrity Eclipse were captured by pirates in 2013. Fortunately, in the end, no one was hurt in that situation.

Cruise Ship Collisions

Cruise ships collisions are rare, but when the do occur, they can cause severe, or even deadly injuries. Collisions can involve underwater debris, icebergs (hello, Titanic!), collisions with other ships or barges. The consequences of a cruise ship collision can be devastating for anybody onboard. A cruise ship collision frequently involves a significant number of injuries, and can also result in death due to injury or drowning, should someone be knocked overboard.

Weather Hazards

Weather hazards present a unique challenge to cruise ships. With modern weather forecasting and technology, severe weather hazards can usually be avoided, but not always. Hazardous weather is a concern for all ship captains. The journal of Meteorological Applications issued a report on the impact of severe weather on U.S. Navy ships. The report found that high waves, strong winds, thunderstorms and fog are the most significant weather hazards to ships. When ships are near ports, these hazards can be particularly dangerous. Ships may be required to navigate under or around bridges and other structures during severe weather, which can increase the potential for injury. Adding to the danger around ports, there are an increased number of ships, greatly increasing the risk of collision with another vessel.

It is almost inevitable that a cruise ship will encounter bad weather either at sea or in port. The issue then becomes are they equipped to handle the weather. There have been cases where passengers have been killed by weather hazards. For example, in 2010, 26-foot high waves crashed through the windows of the cruise ship Louis Majesty when the ship was off the coast of Spain. This resulted in the deaths of two passengers and injured 14 others. In 2014 a huge wave hit the MS Marco Polo cruise ship, shattering several windows and killing one elderly passenger. These massive waves are rare, but they do occur. Large waves are sometimes referred to as “rogue waves” because they seem to come out of nowhere and are completely unexpected. Rogue waves can sometimes reach heights around 100 feet.

If You Have Been Injured on a Cruise Ship

If you have been injured on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This can only be determined after a detailed conversation about the facts and circumstances of your particular injures takes place. At Madalon Law, we offer an initial consultation at no cost to you. In fact, if we take your case, we only charge you a fee if we win. Contact our determined cruise ship accident lawyers in Florida today to discuss your case.

Cruise Ship Safety Improves with Surprise Ship Inspections

cruise ship.jpg

If you are considering a vacation at sea on one of the big cruise vessels, a new U.S. Coast Guard inspection program may interest you. As of just last month, the Coast Guard has begun to board cruise ships in U.S. ports for the purpose of performing unannounced safety inspections. The bi-annual regular inspections already required by law will still be performed, as well.

The impetus behind the new unannounced inspection program is the finding that some cruise lines have a pattern of safety deficiencies that can put passenger lives in danger. The problems found most often during regular inspections involve lifeboats and fire doors, but many other potentially dangerous oversights have also been noted. A Coast Guard spokesperson explained that the new program will focus its efforts on the cruise lines and vessels that have most often had deficiencies in the past. Cruise lines using substandard vessels will be held accountable for the safety issues. The Coast Guard will not allow any passengers to board these vessels at any U.S. port until all of the identified safety problems are fully addressed.

The issue of cruise ship safety has made the news numerous times in the past few years. A norovirus outbreak on a number of vessels is the most recent health and safety issue plaguing the industry. Other recent problems include the fire that broke out last year on the Carnival Triumph, leaving the vessel drifting in the Gulf of Mexico for days, and another Carnival Lines fire, this time on the Splendor, which knocked out power and stranded passengers at sea.
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Fatal Fall on Carnival Cruise is Just Another of Many Cruise Ship Accidents

When you go on a cruise ship, you anticipate having the vacation of a lifetime. This is not the case with a 39-year-old male when he boarded the Carnival Magic. He fell from his cabin balcony one evening and landed three decks below – being pronounced dead soon afterwards. Accidents and fatalities may seem to be rare on cruise ships, though this is not actually the case and occur more often than one might think.

Injuries on a Cruise Ship

By law, cruise lines are only required to report accidents to the state where the ship operates. Canadian professor of sociology, Ross a Klein, spent over 300 days on cruise ships over the span of 10 years. He noted that there were major discrepancies between what the cruise ship industry told the general public in comparison to what he observed.

Some common issues found on cruises include loss of power, fires, and people falling overboard. Other issues that have happened include ship abandonment drills, though the ships are rarely abandoned, which means that the staff are not truly prepared. Additionally, from 1972 to 2011, almost 100 cruise ships ran aground and 16 sank.

While you hope to never encounter an accident on a cruise ship, there are some important things to remember if it ever happens. Following these will help to maximize the likelihood of any kind of compensation for your injuries. This includes trying to stay on the ship for as long as possible so that you can return to the United States. Additionally, you want to obtain names and contact information for anyone who witnessed your accident. If you are unable to write them down, have a family member or friend write them down – contact information can include mobile number(s), home number and/or email address. You should also take pictures of where the accident happened. If it was a slip and fall or other type of accident that may have been caused by a tripping hazard, you should make sure to include the hazard in your photos. Additionally, read the terms on your passenger ticket, as they may involve time sensitive requirements. This means that you may have to notify the cruise line of an injury within a specific amount of time.
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