A lawyer who represents cruise passengers reveals the one thing you need to know before getting on a cruise ship

ShutterstockCruise lines can become adversarial toward injured passengers, lawyer Michael Winkleman said.

  • Cruise lines make significant efforts to keep their passengers happy (sometimes at the expense of their employees), but when a passenger is injured, the cruise line’s attitude can change.
  • If, as a passenger, you slip and fall or are assaulted, the cruise line is no longer your friend, Michael Winkleman, a maritime lawyer for Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina, andWinkleman, told Business Insider.
  • “Anytime anything bad happens, the cruise lines go into adversarial mode,” he said. “All they’re looking to do is protect themselves. They’re not really concerned about protecting you or helping you.”
  • “CLIA cruise lines have no higher priority than the safety and security of their guests and crew,” a Cruise Lines International Association representative said.


Cruise lines make significant efforts to keep their passengers happy (sometimes at the expense of their employees), but when a passenger is injured, the cruise line’s attitude can change, according to a lawyer who represents cruise-line passengers and employees.

If, as a passenger, you slip and fall or are assaulted, the cruise line is no longer your friend, Michael Winkleman, a maritime lawyer for Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina, and Winkleman, told Business Insider.

“Anytime anything bad happens, the cruise lines go into adversarial mode,” he said. “All they’re looking to do is protect themselves. They’re not really concerned about protecting you or helping you.”


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When a passenger is injured, one of the ship’s security officers will take a statement from the passenger using questions that could help the cruise line defend itself in court, Winkleman said. The officer may, for example, ask what the passenger could have done to avoid the incident that led to the injury. But shortly after being injured, a person is not in the right state of mind to defend his or her interests when being questioned, Winkleman said.

If a passenger sues a cruise line, the cruise line will ensure that case is tried in a federal court, which will require a higher standard of evidence and often have a stricter judge than a state court, Winkleman said.

“The deck is certainly stacked against the average person who gets hurt when you’re going up against a cruise line,” he said.

A representative for the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association for the cruise industry, told Business Insider that each member cruise line is required to create security protocols to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew members. The association’s members include Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, among others.

“CLIA cruise lines have no higher priority than the safety and security of their guests and crew,” the representative said.

Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at [email protected]

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