Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, the largest passenger cruise ship company in the world, just announced that it will begin to include Cuba as a Port of Call in May 2016. Carnival claims that when its ship, the Adonia, docks in Cuba next year, it will be the very first American cruise company to visit the island since the Cuban Embargo.
The Adonia is a small ship with a capacity of merely 710 passengers and will operate under Carnival's austere new "Fathom" brand, which purportedly focuses on something Carnival calls "social impact travel . . . designed to provide people an opportunity to make a difference by helping people in poor and disadvantaged countries by doing volunteer work while in port" for at least eight hours a day. Passengers will then be required to sleep aboard the ship each night it is in port.
I wonder if this will mean the Adonia will not have casinos, pool parties, or all-you-can-drink alcohol programs like Carnival's ridiculously treacherous "Cheers Program." According to Fathom's website, there will be a spa onboard the ship--since I guess there must be a need to de-stress after a tough day of faith-based and humanitarian exchanges in Havana.
Still, I cannot imagine how a typical Carnival cruise ship passenger will want to spend cruise vacation time and hard-earned money on excursions to homeless shelters, hospitals, and "faith-based exchanges" instead of jet skiing on Seven-Mile Beach and visiting Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman, but Carnival does, and it intends to make a hefty profit doing so, charging a premium for tickets, with prices starting at $2,990 per person plus taxes and port fees.
Fathom is the tenth global brand in the Carnival Corporation family of cruise lines, which in addition to Carnival also includes Aida, Holland America Line, Costa, Seabourn, P & O Cruises, P & O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, and Cunard.
Carnival's decision to set sail to Cuba will certainly have an enormous effect on the cruise ship industry as well as on the 1.2 million Cubans who live in Miami. Since Americans are still not permitted to travel to Cuba as tourists, passengers applying for tickets will have to qualify under one of the United States Department of Treasury's 12 permitted travel categories, such as for the purpose of journalism, education, religious activities, arts events, etc.
As a lawyer who sues Carnival and other cruise lines on behalf of injured passengers, I was curious as to whether or not Fathom would also require people making accident claims to file their lawsuits within one year of the date of incident in Federal Court in Miami. However, as with all of Carnival's brands, that information was basically impossible to locate on its website, and required five clicks from the homepage to find it. Here it is for you if you are interested:
Buried deep in paragraph 15 is the requirement that injured passengers give written notice within six months of the date of the incident and then file suit within one year of the date in Miami. As a cruise ship accident lawyer, I believe there should be a mandatory law, much like those imposed on tobacco companies, to provide a standardized warning label on all cruise ship websites and ticketing information about the venue and statute-of-limitations requirements.
If you have been injured aboard a Fathom cruise or other cruise ship, make sure to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. Remember this: The cruise lines employ experienced investigators, security officers, and lawyers who battle to defend the profits of the cruise industry every day. You deserve a strong legal advocate in your corner, too.