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Entries in Carnival Cruise Lines (5)

Friday
Feb152013

Carnival Cruise Lines Now Faces Expected Wave of Lawsuits

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite having their feet back on solid ground and making their way home, passengers from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship are still fuming over their five days of squalor on the stricken ship and the cruise ship company is likely to be hit with a wave of lawsuits.

"I think people are going to file suits and rightly so," maritime trial attorney John Hickey told ABC News. "I think, frankly, that the conduct of Carnival has been outrageous from the get-go."

Hickey, a Miami-based attorney, said his firm has already received "quite a few" inquiries from passengers who just got off the ship early Friday morning.

"What you have here is a) negligence on the part of Carnival and b) you have them, the passengers, being exposed to the risk of actual physical injury," Hickey said.

The attorney said that whether passengers can recover monetary compensation will depend on maritime law and the 15-pages of legal "gobbledygook," as Hickey described it, that passengers signed before boarding, but "nobody really agrees to."

One of the ticket conditions is that class action lawsuits are not allowed, but Hickey said there is a possibility that could be voided when all the conditions of the situation are taken into account.

One of the passengers already thinking about legal action is Tammy Hilley, a mother of two, who was on a girl's getaway with her two friends when a fire in the ship's engine room disabled the vessel's propulsion system and knocked out most of its power.

"I think that's a direction that our families will talk about, consider and see what's right for us," Hilley told Good Morning America when asked if she would be seeking legal action.

While she said that she does not want to be greedy or exploit the situation, she does not feel that Carnival's $500 compensation is enough for the trauma passengers suffered.

"You talk about the emotional trauma and just last night, feeling what we went through last night while we were on land with our families and our insides just trembling," she said. "I don't think it begins to even say what is needed here."

In addition to the money, passengers will receive a full refund for the cruise, transportation expenses and vouchers for another cruise.

"We made our own nest [on deck] because we were just too terrified to go inside because of the smells and the germs, so we just banded together and made our own little nest and just survived," Hilley's friend Ann Barlow said.

Her friend Carolyn Klam said she got a stomach virus from drinking bad water once the power went out and friend Tammy Hilley said her cell phone was stolen Friday morning as the boat came into port.

"I think going back to our room was kind of traumatic and seeing that from day one we had no home, we were homeless," Hilley said. "We would go downstairs below deck and your feet could feel the sludge that you were walking through. The smells and the liquids draining from the ceiling and the stories of people sleeping in the hallways and the sanitary bags in the hallway, that was traumatic to just watch it start piling up."

The more than 4,000 passengers and crew began to disembark from the damaged ship around 10:15 p.m. CT Thursday in Mobile, Ala., amid cheers and tears. The last passenger left the ship at 1 a.m. CT, according to Carnival's Twitter handle.

Approximately 100 buses were waiting to take passengers on the next stage of their journey. Passengers had the option to take a bus ride to New Orleans or Galveston, Texas, where the ill-fated ship's voyage began. From there, passengers will take flights home, which Carnival said it would pay for.

Inside the buses, Carnival handed out bags of food that included French fries, chicken nuggets, honey mustard barbecue sauce and apples.

Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill praised the ship's crew and told reporters that he was headed on board to apologize directly to its passengers shortly before the Carnival Triumph arrived in Mobile.

"I know the conditions on board were very poor," Cahill said Thursday night. "I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests [to] that. ...Clearly, we failed in this particular case."

Luckily no one was hurt in the fire that triggered the power outage, but many passengers aboard the 900-foot colossus said they smelled smoke and were living in fear.

Carnival's original plan was to tow the damaged ship to Progreso, Mexico, because it was the closest port, but by the time tugboats arrived, the ship had drifted about 90 miles north due to strong currents, putting it nearly equidistant to Mobile, Ala.

Carnival added that it has canceled a dozen planned voyages for the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before an engine-room fire left it powerless in the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan202012

Cruise Survivors Consider Legal Action, Piece Lives Back Together

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One week after the Costa Concordia cruise ship crashed off the coast of Italy, leaving at least 11 people dead and 21 missing, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau said they were still trying to get their lives back together as they figured out how to hold those determined responsible for the accident accountable.

"When we first got off the ship we had the adrenaline to keep us pumping and moving," Smith said. "It's hard for us to imagine even working. This is all we can focus on."

The couple believes the cruise company, Costa Concordia, and not just the ship's captain, should be held responsible for the 11 deaths, and the emotional and physical injuries of the survivors. But Smith and Lau also voiced anger at Italian authorities and the U.S. Embassy for what they believed was their unresponsiveness after the escape on the island of Giglio.

More than 120 U.S. citizens were reportedly on the cruise ship, including a missing couple from Minnesota, Jerry and Barbara Heil.

Since returning to their Cambridge, Mass., home this week, Smith and Lau said they had been busy with doctors' appointments, and obtaining new driver's licenses, documentation and replacement car keys.

Smith, a computer scientist, and Lau, a musician, survived the crash by climbing down a rope on the side of the sinking ship. They said they still struggled with their physical and emotional well-being. Lau said she lost access to the entire upper range of her voice, which is problematic for a singer.

The couple had been married 14 days before the accident, which the CEO of the cruise company attributed to "human error" by Capt. Francesco Schettino. Authorities are investigating Schettino for suspected manslaughter and abandoning his ship, among other possible charges.

Under house arrest, Schettino told a judge he had tripped into a lifeboat and did not abandon his ship. Domnica Cemortan, a potential witness, said on Moltovan TV that Schettino was a hero and "the captain saved 3,000 to 4,000 people."

According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

Costa Crociere S.p.A., doing business as Costa Cruises, owned the cruise ship that carried about 4,200 people. Its parent is British-American company Carnival Corp., the largest company in the cruise industry, with more than 100 ships in service and 11 international brands.

Carnival Corp. did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment, but Carnival's CEO said in a statement: "This tragedy has called into question our company's safety and emergency response policies and procedures."

Morningstar, an independent investement research firm, has estimated the company will face an $85 million to $95 million loss in revenue while the ship is out of service. The capsizing cruise ship could cost its owners $130 million if the ship can be salvaged. If the $650 million luxury liner is too badly damaged, Costa and Carnival will have to absorb that cost too.

Survivors Arthur Beach, a civil defense lawyer, and his wife, Alex Beach, of Albuquerque, N.M., said they would not pursue any legal action, but seek compensation for their lost items.

Oscar Rosales and his family of El Paso, Texas, said they had not yet had the chance to consider whether they would participate in a legal response. Rosales, his wife, daughter and family friend, who all chose to stay in Rome for a few days after the accident, are returning to the U.S. Friday.

"For starters, I don't think they've done enough for the passengers, and so we'll just have to see what they're going to do next," Rosales said, who said the directions to hotels and flights home were "poorly mismanaged."

John H. "Jack" Hickey, a maritime trial attorney in Miami, said passengers seeking to bring claims against the Costa Concordia cruise company would have to do so in Genoa, Italy, where Costa is based, according to Carnival's ticket contract. Hickey represented passengers who suffered severe injuries in July 2006, after the Crown Princess cruise ship tilted nearly 24 degrees.

The ticket contract is about eight pages of legal terminology, which states "the Passenger assumes responsibility for his or her own safety and the Carrier cannot guarantee the Passenger's safety while on or off the Vessel," Forbes reported. If the cruise line had touched a U.S. port, passengers would be able to sue in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Hickey said.

Hickey said he is considering whether to become involved in legal action. Four or five survivors of the recent crash have contacted his law office, and he has begun working with a lawyer in Italy. Hickey said those with physical and emotional injuries could potentially receive compensation in the Italian legal system, and all death claims should be pursued.

A class action has been initiated by an Italian consumer defense group, Codacons. About 70 passengers have reportedly joined the suit.

Carlo Rienzi, Codacons head, told the Agence France-Presse he hoped to get each passenger at least $12,774 in compensation for material and emotional damage.

Benji Smith and Emily Lau have said they are working on how to pursue legal action and which legal opinions to trust. The couple said they were reluctant to trust the cruise company even with the reimbursement of their lost luggage.

"We've just been failed, neglected and abandoned over and over again," Smith said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Italian Cruise Ship Wreck Costs Could Surpass $130 Million

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- The near-sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship will send a tidal wave of bills at the owners that could reach $130 million -- if the ship can be salvaged.

If it is determined that the $650 million luxury liner is too badly damaged, the owners -- Costa Cruises and its parent company Carnival Cruises -- will have to absorb the loss of the ship.

"They just lose," said Jaime Katz, an equity analyst for Morningstar Inc., an independent investment research firm.  "The ship is gone.  They will have to start over or have one less ship in that market."

That determination has yet to be made, but even a bill that big would not sink the company, experts said.

Carnival Cruises is the largest company in the cruise industry with more than 100 ships in service and 11 global brands. Nevertheless, the company is bracing for an iceberg of bills heading its way.

Already, the disaster has affected Carnival's stock. On Tuesday shares of Carnival were down nearly 14 percent to $29.53.  Bloomberg said it was the biggest drop for the company since April 2009.

Morningstar has estimated that the company will face $85 million to $95 million loss in revenue while the ship is out of service.

Carnival, which is based in Miami, has a $30 million insurance deductible for damage to the ship.

Lawsuits will also sink the company's bottom line. The company reportedly has a $10 million deductible on third-party personal injury liabilities, and Italian laws regarding civil suits may protect Carnival and Costa from mega suits that are common in the U.S.

And, according to Bloomberg, Carnival said it, "further anticipates other costs to the business that are not possible to determine at this time."

But despite the public relations nightmare, Katz said that passengers would continue to sail the high seas after a bit of assurance from the industry, especially Carnival and Costa.

"People are not going to be booking as quickly," she said. "[Carnival] is going to have to assure people this is a safe way to travel."´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan162012

Sinking Cruise Ship Raises Safety Questions

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- The sinking of the Costa Concordia, the luxury liner that struck rocks off Italy's west coast Saturday, has raised questions about the safety of cruise ships.

The ship was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew on its weekly route when investigators say it got dangerously close to the shore. The rocks tore a 160-foot long gash in the hull, causing the ship to tip and sending passengers scrambling to the deck.

Like a scene from the movie "Titanic," vacationers reported forcing their way onto lifeboats and jumping into the icy waters to swim to safety -- a far cry from the carefree cruises advertised on TV. But experts say cruise ships have a good track record, and that failsafes and emergency plans should keep everyone aboard safe, even in the event of a mishap.

"Cruise ships have a redundancy of back-up systems," Aaron Vanhuysen of the U.S. Coast Guard told ABC News. "If they lose one of their generators, they have a back-up emergency generator. If they lose a fire pump, they have another fire pump they can access as well."

Cruise ships are designed with their hulls divided into watertight sections. Even if two sections are breached, the ship will stay afloat. They also have sophisticated navigation systems: sonar; radar; and GPS to guide the crew. And in the event of an emergency -- whether it's a rogue wave, a sudden steering problem or a fire on board -- cruise ships are required to have enough life jackets and lifeboat space for everyone. They're also required to hold an evacuation drill within 24 hours of setting sail. For those on the Costa Concordia, the drill was scheduled for the following day.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit the rocks near Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was an "incredibly close" 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) from the shore.

Scuba divers reportedly found two more bodies in the submerged part of the ship today, bringing the death toll to five. Before the bodies were found, 17 people remained unaccounted for -- 11 passengers and six crew members.

Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m.

Investigators suspect the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, tried to maneuver the ship before alerting coast guard, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.

Schettino was in custody today, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. Schettino reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.

The Costa Concordia crash is one of the worst cruise line disasters in recent years. In 2005, a 70-foot wave tore through the Norwegian Dawn -- an ocean liner en route from the Bahamas to New York City. Four passengers were treated for minor injuries. And in 2010, three large waves struck the Louis Majesty off the coast of Spain, shattering windows and flooding several floors of the ship. Two passengers were killed.

An estimated 15 million people hopped aboard cruise ships in 2010, the majority of them Americans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar222011

Stock Averages Slightly Off In Midday Trading

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks were trading in a narrow range midday Tuesday after Monday's big jump.

Overnight Japan's Nikkei index gained 4.4 percent on reported progress at the crippled nuclear power plant at Fukushima.

Delta Air Lines is reducing its flight schedule this year. Delta's schedule has been hit by the crisis in Japan and higher fuel costs. Many of the airline’s Asian flights go through Tokyo. Now the company says its Japan flight schedule will be reduced by 15 to 20 percent.

Oil prices are up, with West Texas crude around $104 a barrel.

Research In Motion says its new PlayBook tablet computer will go on sale April 19. The price will be between $499 and $699.

Carnival Cruise Lines says its latest quarterly profit fell 13 percent, pinched by higher than expected fuel prices.

Walgreens’ profits rose 10 percent but the drugstore chain's shares were down in midday trading.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio