Many Americans enjoy taking cruises. One of the best things about a cruise is the ability to unpack once, but visit several different destinations. Sunshine, ocean breezes, exotic destinations, food, and drink are just some of the other reasons cruises are so popular.
There can be a downside to cruises, however. Cruise ships bring with them a number of potential hazards, which can be the source of injuries, or even death.
These can include the following:
Assault by a passenger or crew member;
Falling from great heights;
Accidents that occur on excursions;
Outbreaks of diseases;
Cruise ship collisions; and
Fires onboard a cruise ship are more rare than other hazards, but they do occur. When they occur, they can be terrifying. Fires can cause a great deal of damage to a ship. It also puts passengers at risk from smoke. If a fire starts in the boiler room, for example, the smoke can get into the vent system and put passengers at risk of smoke inhalation.
Assault By a Passenger or Crew Member
Violent assaults do occur on cruise ships, including sexual assaults. Alcohol flows freely on a cruise and some people get violent when they drink. A study has shown that the rate of sexual assault on cruise ships is 50 percent higher than it is on land.
Cruise ships often have hot tubs, pools, wave pools and slides as well as other water attractions. Frequently, these areas do not have lifeguards on duty. This puts guests in danger of drowning. Do not let children use the water attractions without supervision. Also, adults should avoid water attractions after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Near-drowning accidents can also be an issue.
Falling from Great Heights
Falling overboard is the most obvious falling hazard on a cruise ship, but it is not the only one. Cruise ships also have internal ramps, balconies, and other level changes of significant height. This can lead to falls significant enough to cause injury or even death.
Accidents That Occur on Excursions
One of the most exciting things about cruising is the ability to leave the ship and experience exotic port cities and the areas around them. However, injuries can occur if a tour or other excursion experience is operated negligently. Depending on who is operating the excursion and who is negligent, you may or may not have a claim against the cruise line operator. A qualified and experienced attorney can help make this determination.
Outbreaks of Disease
Serious illness can spread throughout a cruise ship rapidly. Passengers use common dining areas and are in close proximity for the duration of the cruise. Onshore excursions can result in passengers being exposed to diseases they then bring back to the ship. Not every cruise ship has effective cleaning protocols, which can also lead to the rapid spread of serious illness.
Although rare, cruise ships have run aground. For example, off the coast of Italy in January 2012, a cruise ship ran aground. The ship was left lying on its side for an extended period of time. 32 people were killed and many more were injured in this incident.
Modern pirates are most commonly associated with oil tankers off the coast of Africa than they are with cruise ships. However, pirates have captured cruise ships – particularly smaller cruise ships – in the past. For example, 60 passengers on the Celebrity Eclipse were captured by pirates in 2013. Fortunately, in the end, no one was hurt in that situation.
Cruise Ship Collisions
Cruise ships collisions are rare, but when the do occur, they can cause severe, or even deadly injuries. Collisions can involve underwater debris, icebergs (hello, Titanic!), collisions with other ships or barges. The consequences of a cruise ship collision can be devastating for anybody onboard. A cruise ship collision frequently involves a significant number of injuries, and can also result in death due to injury or drowning, should someone be knocked overboard.
Weather hazards present a unique challenge to cruise ships. With modern weather forecasting and technology, severe weather hazards can usually be avoided, but not always. Hazardous weather is a concern for all ship captains. The journal of Meteorological Applications issued a report on the impact of severe weather on U.S. Navy ships. The report found that high waves, strong winds, thunderstorms and fog are the most significant weather hazards to ships. When ships are near ports, these hazards can be particularly dangerous. Ships may be required to navigate under or around bridges and other structures during severe weather, which can increase the potential for injury. Adding to the danger around ports, there are an increased number of ships, greatly increasing the risk of collision with another vessel.
It is almost inevitable that a cruise ship will encounter bad weather either at sea or in port. The issue then becomes are they equipped to handle the weather. There have been cases where passengers have been killed by weather hazards. For example, in 2010, 26-foot high waves crashed through the windows of the cruise ship Louis Majesty when the ship was off the coast of Spain. This resulted in the deaths of two passengers and injured 14 others. In 2014 a huge wave hit the MS Marco Polo cruise ship, shattering several windows and killing one elderly passenger. These massive waves are rare, but they do occur. Large waves are sometimes referred to as “rogue waves” because they seem to come out of nowhere and are completely unexpected. Rogue waves can sometimes reach heights around 100 feet.
If You Have Been Injured on a Cruise Ship
If you have been injured on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This can only be determined after a detailed conversation about the facts and circumstances of your particular injures takes place. At Madalon Law, we offer an initial consultation at no cost to you. In fact, if we take your case, we only charge you a fee if we win. Contact our determined cruise ship accident lawyers in Florida today to discuss your case.