Our cruise ship accident law firm in Florida receives more calls from Carnival passengers with complaints of injuries than from passengers on all other cruise lines combined. Carnival is certainly responsibly for the catastrophic incidents on board the Carnival Triumph as well as the inexcusable recklessness that killed 32 people aboard the Costa Concordia. And last week a six year old boy drowned on board a Carnival ship. I am frequently asked why.

The reasons may be easier to understand by examining the transition of power from longtime CEO Micky Arison, who captained the company for 34 years and is the son of Carnival’s founder Ted Arison. Micky Arison has now “retired” but not before handpicking his successor, Arnold Donald.

Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world, and under its corporate umbrella controls 10 different brands:

AIDA Cruises (Germany)
Ibero Cruises (Spain)
P&O Cruises (United Kingdom)
P&O Cruises (Australia)
Costa (Italy)
Cunard (United Kingdom)
Holland America Line (United Kingdom)
Princess Cruises (USA)
Seaborn (USA)

Carnival is a member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry’s trade association, whose lobbyists are based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, representing the interests of the world’s cruise industry in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. CLIA’s members include 26 cruise lines, 10,500 travel agents, and thousands of port authorities and vendors who feed and survive off the cruise line industry.

In May 2013, CLIA announced the “International Passenger Bill of Rights,” which outlines certain industry standards that members vow to provide their passengers (this covers the legal rights of cruise ship passengers). Those standards would be valuable to know before you and your family take your next cruise:


The Members of the Cruise Lines International Association are dedicated to the comfort and care of all passengers on oceangoing cruises throughout the world. To fulfill this commitment, [its] Members have agreed to adopt the following set of passenger rights:

1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.

2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.

3. The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.

4. The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.

5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.

6. The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.

7. The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.

8. The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.

9. The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.

10. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.

I cannot help but notice that CLIA forgot to include the right of passengers who are injured aboard these ships–due to the carelessness, recklessness, or just plain greed of the cruise line–to have their medical bills and lost wages paid, and to receive fair and just compensation for pain and suffering.

The legal rights for those who have been hurt on a cruise are much different than those in other kinds of personal injury cases. For example, passengers only have one year from the date of the incident not just to make a claim but to file an actual lawsuit in Federal court to preserve their legal rights. Virtually every cruise line requires that the lawsuit be filed in Federal Court in Miami.

We are passionate about assisting passengers injured on cruise ships and offer a free legal consultation to anyone who has a potential cruise claim. Please Email me, Spencer Aronfeld, or call our office today at 1-866-597-4529 to discuss your case.

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