Meyer v. Carnival: Amilcar Cascais / Carnival Deposition

This review of Amilicar Cascais’ deposition is part of our much larger coverage of the Michael Meyer v. Carnival Cruise Lines et al. case resulting from a catamaran propeller accident on a cruise ship shore excursion.

Most of our coverage of these depositions comes from legal documents in PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). We encourage those who wish to study the case more in depth to establish a PACER account and view the original records. Fees are typically about a dime a page.

Carnival Excursion Tour Deposition – Amilcar Cascais

Amilcar Cascais is Carnival’s Vice President of Tour Operations was deposed 17 August 2012. Mr. Cascais has been in charge of shore excursions the last 14 years. These excursions are only sold to passengers booked on Carnival cruises. He works for the corporate headquarters in Doral Florida. There are about eleven people in his department at Carnival headquarters. Many others work tour operations and excursions onboard the various cruise ships.

Once a passenger pays for a cruise, they could pre-book excursion tours from the company website since 2005. Once guests are onboard a cruise, they can book excursion tours from the shore excursion desk, from the guest services desk, or from the interactive TV system.

Amilcar Cascais said Carnival’s share of excursions could exceed $100 million in some years.

Cascais said he did not recollect excursion tours trying to get out of lawsuits in Florida Southern District due to lack of personal jurisdiction prior to this case. He is aware Cox is trying to do it in this case.

Two representatives of Cox have come to Carnival’s headquarters at Doral in Dade County, Florida a few times, then later he said a little less than once a year since 1997/1998 (when Carnival first started going to St. Lucia). Several of Cox’s trips were in regards to a large cruise ship trade show held nearby. During their actual visits with him at Carnival headquarters they generally talked about the tours and how they were doing, and any new tours they would like to present. Plus they talked about costs (the cost of the tour paid to Cox).

For the last five years, Carnival has offered about 20 tours and excursions on St. Lucia. At any given time, about 10 to 12 of those would be arranged through Cox & Company.

Carnival has a retail price for the excursions and tours and a cost paid to the operator.

Prior to this accident, Cascias had never heard of Sailaway Tours, but Carnival knows that in general, tour operators (such as Cox) often subcontract part of or whole excursions.

Carnival’s excursion program currently consists of over a thousand different tours and excursions worldwide.

Carnival has a standard agreement they sign and the excursion firm operators sign to become part of Carnivals excursion program. Addendums were added to those agreements from time to time.

On May 1, 2003 Carnival had all their tour operators sign a new agreement to make sure they were all on the same consistent contract. As with their previous agreement, part of the new contract called for Carnival to advertise and sell the shore excursions.

Tours are promoted via the website, emails to booked passengers, rack cards by the shore excursion desk, Fun Ashore and Aboard (FAFA) presentations and in cabin TV, and cruise line brochures created by the home office.

About 20 to 30 percent of U.S. resident cruise customers live in Florida per an industry study.

Carnival sends the excursion operator an Excursion Detail Questionaire (EDQ) for them to answer several questions including the activity level (easy, moderate, strenuous) to aid in developing the advertising materials.

Michael Meyer booked his cruise from Jacqui Spier, a Personal Vacation Planners (PVP) for Carnival. Cascais thinks PVPs work from a Carnival office in Miramar, Florida.

Cascais was shown an email from Spier to Meyer describing the Piton excursion and listing the price as $59.99.

Two individuals that no longer work for Carnival rode the Victory and took a familiarization trip (fam trip) on the Piton tour before Carnival listed it as an excursion. They do not use a checklist or any itemization of things to check. Cascais did not see any reports from that trip. In addition to that instance, he things the shore excursion manager has since gone on that tour once as well. He does not recall if her visit was before or after the Meyer accident, but does recall seeing a two page email report of her trip. She reported on the timeliness of the excursion, cleanliness, and what a guest would encounter.

Carnival Victory

Carnival Victory
image courtesy of Wikipedia

Carnival requires the tour operators to carry certain levels of insurance, and periodically reviews those policies from time to time. However, they rely upon the tour operators to require any subcontractors to carry similar levels of insurance. Carnival makes no inquiry about subcontractor insurance.

Carnival’s agreement with Cox states, “neither party may assign any of its rights or obligations under this agreement by operation of law or otherwise without the written consent of the other party and any attempt to do so shall be null and void, including any subcontracting by operator.

However, in practice, Carnival has no problems with tour operators subcontracting part or all of a tour without even contacting Carnival.

The Meyer’s pre-booked the excursion tour and would have received their excursion tickets their first night on board the ship.

Cox is written on the shore excursion ticket (as is Carnival). A passenger would have had no way of knowing Cox was associated with any of the tours at St. Lucia before receiving a ticket for one of them.

The Piton Tour tickets delivered to Meyer were created by Carnival.

The agreement Cox signed says they consent to personal jurisdiction over it and to venue of the Southern District of Florida in the event of any lawsuit Carnival is involved in related to their shore excursions or the terms of the agreement. Additionally, every single addendum Cox has signed since 2003 refers back to that original document.

The following statement was on Carnivals website and the time Michael booked his tour, “Carnival recommends that guests do not engage in excursions, tours or activities that are not sold through Carnival as Carnival has no familiarity whatsoever with these services or their operations.”

Carnival also tells its guest that if they book a shore excursion through Carnival and there are unexpected delays, the Cruise ship will wait for them. They will not wait for those who experience unexpected delays after booking non-Carnival shore excursions.

Plaintiff lawyers showed the current agreement with Cox, but the cost per tour had been redacted. Then they had a brief discussion saying the court had ordered that disclosure but agreed it should be confidential. They could supply the cost now but it could not be in the written or video record of the deposition, or it could be supplied at a later time. In a break to change video tapes, Cascais verbally told the attorney the cost of the Piton tour (price Carnival paid to Cox per person). They will work out how to discuss the cost in court later.

Cascais does not know if the Carnival representatives on the familiarization trip swam at the swim stop or not.

Cox and Company has been doing business in St. Lucia since 1926. (pg.254).

The Cataman Tour to the Pitons was formalized in 2009.

Seaspray Cruises has been in operation since 1991, has been licensed to operate catamarans in St. Lucia, and owns four catamarans. (pg.266).

Other cruise lines were using Cox prior to 2009 when Carnival started offering their catamaran Piton tour.

Cox’s website currently lists numerous well known cruise lines as their clients.

Tour operators are expressly forbidden from using signage or clothing containing “Carnival” or other related trade names and logos. (pg.276).

Contracts, documents, and tickets between Carnival and its passengers indicate shore excursion tours are operated by independent contractors. (pg.280).

Cascais is not aware of other similar instances in which someone jumped off the back of a boat and suffered an injury that was reported to Carnival. (pg.282).

When Cox reported the accident to Carnival, they said “that the gentleman jumped after being told not to jump over the side of the vessel.” (pg.306).

Cascais earlier said he was not aware of any previous safety issues with Cox related to catamarans. Plaintiff attorneys brought up the Henderson case against Carnival. A catamaran operated by Cox carrying Carnival passengers hit a reef on the “Soufriere Cruise Adventure” in St. Lucia injuring some passengers in 2000. (pg.310).

Cascais said that if he had been aware of the Henderson accident he would have certainly visited with Cox about it.

Cascais said he went to Carnival’s loss prevention department and asked them if there were any similar previous incidents. They did not make him aware of the Henderson case.

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