Beware of Norovirus Before Your Next Cruise

Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2019 at 4:25 pm    

Cruises are a popular way to travel because they’re relatively stress-free. You can just sit back, sip on a daiquiri, and enjoy watching the endless hypnotic movement of the ocean’s tide from the ship’s deck.

Thirty million passengers are expected to travel by cruise in 2019, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. However, despite all of the fun that a cruise ship promises, there are some drawbacks.

Hundreds of passengers contracted the norovirus stomach flu while traveling on the Royal Caribbean International’s ship, Oasis of the Seas, in January 2019. And it’s not hard to imagine why so many people got sick.

Thousands of people are touching the same handrails, buffet utensils, bathroom door handles and elevator buttons. Once someone is infected with this hyper-contagious stomach flu, it’s easy to pass it on. People with the virus can shed billions of norovirus particles, and it only takes a few of those particles to infect another person.

The Oasis of the Seas’ contained quarters was the perfect recipe for the norovirus to spread rapidly, infecting 561 of 6,285 passengers and 31 of 2,169 crewmembers.

Known as the “cruise ship virus,” norovirus accounts for 90 percent of diarrheal outbreaks on cruise ships. It’s not only the close living quarters that breed this fast-spreading illness, but it’s also coming and going of passengers on and off the ship.

When passengers go ashore, they can become infected with the illness and bring it back to the cruise ship. In addition, the norovirus doesn’t leave the ship with the passengers. The norovirus can contaminate surfaces on the cruise ship and infect a new round of passengers.

The norovirus can persist on surfaces and is resistant to common disinfectants. So even after passengers leave, and crewmembers disinfect the ship, the virus can remain and infect the new oncoming passengers.

The Oasis of the Seas was set to embark on a journey to Mexico and then through the Caribbean Sea to Haiti and Jamaica. However, because of the rapid spread of the norovirus, passengers were not allowed off of the ship in Jamaica for fear of future infection.

The Oasis of the Seas returned to Port Canaveral, Florida a day earlier than scheduled because the norovirus was spreading so rapidly on the ship. Hundreds of vacations were ruined for those who contracted the norovirus and the remaining were cut short for those who didn’t contract the virus.

This was a real blow, especially financially, for those passengers who had planned and saved for months in advance for a tropical getaway.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) runs the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) to help curb the spread of the norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses. The VSP also performs unannounced operation sanitation inspections to make sure the ship is in tiptop shape.

The VSP inspects ships with more than 13 people and a foreign itinerary including ports in the United States in and provides a service for passengers to look at a cruise’s inspection score before booking a trip. The top score is 100, which is excellent. Any score below 85 is considered unsatisfactory.

Passengers can also investigate a cruise ship before booking travel to check for any recent outbreaks. The VSP requires cruise lines that are sailing from a foreign port to an American port to document if any outbreaks occurred on the ship within 24 hours before the ship docks at its port.

But remember, just because a ship has a good score doesn’t mean you won’t be infected with the norovirus illness. There have been reports of the norovirus on ships that had near-perfect scores.

Passengers should always take appropriate measures to keep from getting sick. First, passengers should wash their hands frequently, especially before and after eating. Passengers should try to keep their hands away from their mouths and should stay away from any food or water that could be contaminated.

If you notice someone is ill, you should leave the area and alert a crewmember. Passengers should stay in their room if an illness is reported and wait for the area to be sanitized. Yes, it takes away some of the fun of the cruise ship, but if you’re already on board, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Also, before you board a cruise ship, take the time to look at the cruise line’s medical accommodations. Cruise ships are required to have at least one medical professional available at all times. All ships that hold 250 or more passengers have overnight accommodations.

If the ship comes to an American port, then an examination room, an intensive care room, and lab processing equipment are also required. But there are some major drawbacks to being out at sea without an actual hospital nearby.

First, the cruise ship doctors are not usually specialists. So, if you should need special care, there’s a good likelihood that you won’t be able to receive it. Before you book a cruise, you should call your healthcare insurer to find out if you are covered for offshore medical issues.

Also, it might be smart to purchase travel insurance. If you become seriously ill, you may need an emergency medical evacuation, which can be very costly. Remember that you can purchase insurance from an independent company instead of the cruise line itself and possibly save some money.

Contact Louis A. Vucci P.A. For Help If You’ve Experienced A Cruise Ship Accident

At Louis A. Vucci P.A., we were disappointed to find out about the hundreds of norovirus cases on the Oasis of the Seas. We believe that cruise lines should take all of the precautions necessary to prevent all types of illness while they are at sea.

Contact us today if you or someone you know contracted an illness while at sea on a cruise ship. You may be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional, or financial losses you experienced while being on a cruise ship. Please contact us at (786) 375-0344 today for a free and confidential consultation. You also can reach out to us online.

Latest Cruise Ship News

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 at 7:45 am    

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) expects 30 million passengers on its cruises in 2019. Over one million employees and 290 ships are part of this organization alone, so handling the logistics of providing world-class entertainment and leisure to the travelling public is overwhelming.

There have been recent reports about the working conditions on cruise ships, bringing to light that often their crews are overworked and underpaid. Large ships require very large staffs, and many of these crew members are often forced to work more than 60 hours a week. It’s no wonder, then, that sometimes these exhausted cruise ship employees make errors that affect passengers’ wellbeing.

However, despite these reports, cruise passengers still entrust their lives to these companies and their ships. During the summer of 2019, several serious accidents occurred on board cruise ships. While each accident is unique and requires a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible, it’s clear that the cruise industry needs to work to limit on-board accidents, assaults, and illnesses.

Cruise Collisions

According to news reports, the MSC Opera crashed into the dock of Venice’s Giudecca Canal on Sunday, June 2, 2019. The crew of the ship lost control and veered into another boat, injuring at least four bystanders.

MSC Cruises’ promotional material touts the technical specs of the Opera: a nearly 66,000-ton ship capable of carrying 2,150 passengers. Unfortunately, this was not the first time the huge ship had experienced technical failures. In 2011, the Opera lost power while on a Baltic cruise, resulting in dark passageways and toilets that wouldn’t flush.

Smaller ships, like the Burdigala II, are at the same risk for technical failure and crew negligence that the large international cruise ships like the Opera. On August 19, 2019 the pleasure cruise, based in Bordeaux, crashed into the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas after losing control. Ten people were injured, including four seriously. In April 2019, a Viking river cruise called Idun crashed into a petroleum tanker. Five people were hurt.

With a history of failures like these, it’s easy to understand why passengers and governments are increasingly concerned about cruise ship safety. Accidents like the Opera’s have generated demands from local residents that large cruise ships be diverted from historic city centers. Some have even proposed banning them altogether.

Given the impact that the cruise industry has on the economies of scenic ports like Venice, complete bans are unlikely, and political infighting has made reforms difficult. Forbes reports that the media has exaggerated the scope of the proposed changes, and that they have printed stories that falsely equate public statements to current legislation. Large ships will continue to dock in major ports, and smaller vessels continue to gain popularity among people going on cruises.

On Board Assault

One danger on the high seas and on shore is alcohol. In the United States, many states have enacted laws that require bars and restaurants to monitor their customers and refuse to serve anyone who is visibly intoxicated. These “over serving” or “dram shop” laws are intended to help lower the chances of drunk driving and alcohol-influenced violence. Since revenue from alcohol makes up a significant portion of the cruise industry’s revenue, they have little incentive to limit sales.

Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption on board cruise ships has resulted in serious injuries for passengers. At the end of a week-long cruise around Norway, a fight broke out near a buffet of the P&O Britannia. The July 2019 clash resulted in the injury of six people, and two people were arrested on suspicion of assault.

Sexual assault is another alcohol-fueled crime that is all too common on cruise ships. In July 2019, a man was sentenced to 78 months in federal jail for sexually assaulting his colleague on a cruise. In 2015, an anonymous minor was raped by a group of men who had gotten her drunk. In the summer of 2019, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that Royal Caribbean could be sued for its failure to intervene on her behalf.

Sickness and Medical Emergencies at Sea

Good sanitation is one of the fundamental responsibilities of cruise ship companies, and also one of the most difficult to maintain consistently. The unique limitations of cruise ships—their isolation while at sea and the resulting lack of freedom of movement for passengers—can exacerbate the spread of illnesses.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the spread of disease on vessels that stop in the United States, and has implemented the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) to help mitigate common gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships.

Even with these inspections and safety precautions, illness, especially Norovirus, is still common. Perhaps the most significant recent occurrence was on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. In January 2019, 500 passengers and crew members became ill with Norovirus, resulting in an early end to the trip.

According to news reports, the Carnival Cruise Fantasy got the third-worst CDC VSP grade ever in August 2019 after inspectors found issues like unclean dishes on a galley rack designated for clean dishes and brown water coming out of shower hoses in the medical center.

Once a passenger has fallen ill on a cruise ship, they have only one treatment option: that on-board medical center. While the doctors and nurses that cruise companies employ are supposed to be trained to deal with the full range of possible medical emergencies, their tools are limited. Ships with deep sea capabilities travel far from ports, and, therefore, far from comprehensive emergency medical care.

In 2018, a man was misdiagnosed with a serious heart condition by the on-board medical staff and evacuated via an air ambulance to receive treatment. Once he reached a hospital, he was happy to learn that he had a much less serious condition.  But he is still fighting the more than $600,000 bill for his flight.

Contact Louis A. Vucci P.A. for Help After a Cruise Ship Accident

Many people are drawn to promises of adventure and relaxation on rivers and the sea, but the cruise ship industry has continued to put passengers at risk. You deserve to have a safe vacation, and to pursue legal action if the cruise line fails to provide that. Louis A. Vucci is experienced in cruise ship litigation, and has extensive experience fighting the major cruise ship companies on the behalf of passengers.

If you have been injured as a result of the cruise ship industry’s negligence, let the cruise ship attorneys of Louis A. Vucci P.A. help make them accountable. We are ready to discuss your accident during a completely free consultation. Call us at (786) 375-0344, chat with us, or fill out our online contact form.

The Current State of the Cruise Ship Business

Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019 at 8:47 am    

The cruise ship business is one that is constantly growing. Companies feel pressure to compete with each other and to innovate the cruise experience to make each voyage more exciting than the last. As a result, these companies often make problematic business decisions, which require excessive amounts of money and occasionally lead to them going to court. Additionally, climate change and rising sea levels are a growing concern within the cruise line business, and cruise companies are being forced to start thinking about the future of their businesses.

Between their large construction projects, constant innovation, criminal activity, and negligence on the part of operators or staff, cruise lines have been in the headlines a lot lately, and as passengers who can be hurt by the negligence of these major cruise operators, we should all be paying attention to the state of the industry and the dangers that cruises pose to consumers. 

Recent Lawsuits Against the Cruise Lines

Recently, three people (one from the Bahamas and two from Alaska), told a court they wanted to be recognized as victims of Carnival Corporation’s environmental crimes. This came up during a trial between Carnival and federal prosecutors over the company’s illegal dumping of over 500,000 gallons of treated sewage into the ocean. The Carnival Corporation eventually pleaded guilty to these crimes and as a result paid $40 million in fines and was put on probation for five years.

During those probationary years, their court-appointed monitor found that they continued violating international environmental laws through the burning unfiltered heavy fuel oil and other illegal activities such as falsifying records, dumping plastic into the ocean, using a back channel to communicate with the Coast Guard, failing to give their environmental compliance officer the level of authority outlined in their probation, and improperly preparing their ships ahead of visits by the court-appointed monitor.

The Grand Princess, one of the ships owned by Carnival, even docked in Alaska in 2017 with a dead whale on the bow of the ship. As a result, they were put back on trial for violating their probation, during which the judge threatened to ban the company’s ships from docking at U.S. ports. The public wrote letters urging her to punish the cruise line for their repeated violations.

Safety Concerns

Another concerning trend in cruise line behavior is a sense of disdain for the safety of their passengers and a lack of regulations to protect their safety. For example, MSC cruises was sued by the mother of a 14-year old girl who was sexually assaulted by one of their crew members. The cruise line did not look at employment history or perform a background check before hiring the crew member. The girl was on the cruise with her grandparents and older sister because her younger brother had his finger amputated by a door and her parents disembarked to take him to the hospital. MSC was sued for “failing to provide reasonably safe conditions” aboard the ship, which led to the assault of a minor.

Carnival Cruise Lines had eight reports of sexual assaults between October 1st and December 31st of 2018, and Royal Caribbean had six. On the topic of passenger safety, Royal Caribbean also had issues with the Sky Pad, one of their onboard attractions that features a trampoline with bungee cords that allow a passenger to jump even higher than normal. They were forced to shut down the Sky Pad after one of the cords snapped and a passenger broke his pelvis.

Booming Revenues

Despite their repeated offenses in terms of the safety of their passengers and environmental regulations, the cruise industry continues to grow and companies continue to have enough money to think about the future of their businesses. 18 new cruise ships were set to launch this year, and the industry is expected to bring in a whopping $134 billion. Many believe that the growth in the industry is largely due to millennials and retirees, but the impact they are having on the overall popularity of cruise lines is enormous. Companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to update their vessels and attract these new audiences. The Sky Pad aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Mariner ship was one of the updated attractions that Royal Caribbean brought aboard during a $100 million remodel meant to attract millennials such as the 25-year-old who broke his pelvis.

With this rapid growth, there are growing concerns about the environmental impact of these expansions, especially if companies continue to behave as if they are above the law when it comes to environmental regulations. Additionally, companies are constantly looking for the next big thing in onboard entertainment and are making investments to develop the industry in places like China. One recent trend that companies are starting to have to pay attention to is climate change and rising sea levels.

Royal Caribbean is planning to spend $300 million to make their new PortMiami office look like an enormous ship, and one of the updates they are planning is to make sure their structures are at least 15 feet above sea level, as rising sea levels are a growing concern. Another reason Royal Caribbean is investing such a large sum of money to build their new office in Miami is to make the cruise line competitive when it comes to recruiting employees who are the best of the best. If they are going to compete with the rest of the growing industry to gain customers, they have to recruit the best staff.

Another example of companies trying to compete is that MSC recently purchased their own private island, Ocean Cay, which all of their cruises out of PortMiami will stop at. The company is working to build a larger terminal along PortMiami that won’t be completed until 2022, though in MSC’s case executives declined to say whether or not they were concerned about rising sea levels. Two other cruise lines, Norweigan Cruise line, and Virgin Voyages, are currently constructing new terminals in the same area.

Hurt in An Accident? Call Us For Help

As the cruise line industry expands and companies continue to make mistakes, it becomes more and more important for us to hold them liable when they do something illegal or endanger the lives of their passengers. The cruise ship attorneys of Louis A. Vucci P.A. are ready to sit down with you and discuss your accident when you call us at (786) 375-0344 or when you reach out to us online. Our consultations are always 100% free and confidential, so there is no risk to reach out to us. 


Carnival Cruises Investigated for Dumping Sewage

Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019 at 6:29 pm    

The government of the Bahamas will launch an investigation of Carnival Cruise Line for discharging nearly 500,000 gallons of treated sewage into Bahamian waters following the release of a report from a Florida federal judge.

The 205-page report identified 13 incidents where Carnival illegally dumped treated sewage into the waters of the Bahamas during the cruise line’s first year of probation. The sewage dumps, which occurred over two weeks in June 2017, violate Bahamian rules as well as international rules. According to international laws, ships may dump treated sewage three miles from land. However, in the Bahamas and some other countries, ships must dump 12 miles off land. Some of Carnival’s discharges occurred while its ships were inside the 12-mile zone.

The report, which was released by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, identified over 800 total incidents on Carnival ships globally. Of the hundreds of incidents, 19 were for unlawfully burning heavy fuel oil (HFO) in protected waters, and over 150 incidents were due to items, such as chairs, accidentally going overboard. Missing records, incorrect logs, and faulty or broken machinery were among the other incidents noted.

Renward Wells, Minister of Transport and Local Government, said that the Bahamian government will undergo a thorough review into the report, according to a news article from the Nassau Guardian. Wells called the report “disturbing.”

Carnival Corp. reported the treated sewage dumps to authorities in the Bahamas and said the discharges were unintentional and the result of human error.

The Miami-based cruise company’s probation was due to a guilty plea in 2016 to seven felony charges from unlawful oil dumping and the ensuing cover-up on five of its ships, a conspiracy which lasted eight years. In 2017, Carnival’s first year on probation, the company didn’t commit any of the crimes it was convicted of the previous year.

None of the Carnival cruise ships that dumped treated sewage in the waters of the Bahamas are registered with the Bahamas. However, many Carnival ships are registered there, granting the island nation authority over Carnival’s activities.

Carnival Cruise Line Accident Attorneys

At Louis A. Vucci P.A., we are disappointed to hear of the news of Carnival dumping treated sewage, putting the health of others at risk. Unfortunately, Carnival has a long history of negligence and harming cruise passengers in the process. If you were injured while aboard a Carnival cruise, you may have options for recovering financial compensation.

The cruise accident attorneys at Louis A. Vucci, P.A. are committed to helping cruise passengers who have been injured or harmed on Carnival ships. When an injury affects your life, we recommend you seek the help of a skilled and experienced attorney. At Louis A. Vucci P.A., we strive to provide the best legal representation possible for our clients. We don’t charge you unless we win your personal injury case, and your initial consultation is free and confidential. Contact us today by calling (786) 375-0344. You may also fill out our online contact form or chat live with a representative on our site.

Attorney Louis A. Vucci quoted in news article

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 at 3:58 pm    

Louis A. Vucci, the lead attorney of Louis A. Vucci P.A., was recently asked to provide input for an article titled “Cruising for a Bruising: Passenger Personal Injury Suits Flow, But Crew Member Litigation is Drying Up” on’s Daily Business Review.

The article discusses a new law, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act. Currently, most cruise lines require their crew members to go through an arbitration process if they have a claim against the line. This can lead to an unfair power balance, as arbitration is usually focused on protecting the business’s interests rather than the injured employee’s. This law aims to change that.

To read the article, click here.

Norwegian Cruise Line to Add Two New Ships

Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2019 at 3:38 pm    

As part of their ongoing mission to renovate and improve their fleet, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on January 8th that they will be adding two new ships to their line in 2022 and 2025. These completely new ships are in addition to the $100 million renovations to their four Regatta-class ships, announced last year.

The two new ships will each hold 1,200 passengers. They will be added to Norwegian’s premium line, Oceania, and become part of Oceania’s Allure class. The ships will be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, at a price of $650 million each.

The ongoing renovations, which should be completed by 2020, are also to the Oceania line. Miami design firm Studio DADO is a part of these renovations. In addition to Oceania, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings also owns Norwegian Cruise Line, a contemporary line, and Regent, a luxury line.