Cruise Ship Accidents: Danger on the High Seas

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You’ve packed your bags, brought the proper attire for dinner at the Captain’s table, and scouted out which ports you’ll visit. Does this sound familiar? The upcoming spring marks the start of the cruise-travelling season. It’s estimated that a whopping ten million people cruise from the United States each year, some veterans and others novices. Why so popular? Cruises present a multitude of activities for those of us who want to travel the world, while keeping all our belongings in one place while we do so. Without having to disembark, the cruise ship offers golf, bungee jumping, and snorkeling, shopping, gambling, activities for the kids, and a never-ending array of 24-hour international cuisine. We place our lives, trust and vacation enjoyment in the hands of the expert cruise liners and experienced crew. But, as we all know, something could go wrong.

In 2011, the Costa Concordia cruise ship reminded us that serious events still occur. Who could forget the scene on television of passengers on the boat, looking like tiny ants along the side of the sinking ship, making their way to the rescue boats below? Despite newer technology and procedures for cruise ship regulations and safety, it was as though we were experiencing and witnessing a modern-day Titanic. Some of those who were later found dead were thought to have been waiting for help, trusting in a system that would come and rescue them in the face of tragedy. Help never arrived. The actions of the captain remain questionable, and his communication to authorities leave doubt in the minds of many that he underestimated the damages and presented mixed messages to his crew.

Cruise ship accidents are related to several factors, whether it be from the crew, or the passengers. Accidents occur as a result of: falling overboard and standing too close to the rail, alcohol and other drug impairment, distractions, miscalculations, viruses or illnesses on the boat from a crowded environment. If you are injured on a cruise liner, here are some things that you should do while on the boat:

  • Alert the crew that you need immediate and emergency attention as soon as you notice that there is something wrong.
  • Take note of the scene, condition and witnesses.
  • Photograph the scene if there is evidence.
  • Ask to be returned to the United States for medical attention if you are in a foreign country. Cruise ships have the ability to provide emergency care and to facilitate the evacuation of those who need to leave the boat.
  • Keep all paperwork and insurance policies provided by the cruise liner, as there may be limitations as to what is covered, the time frame for reporting an incident and who actually represents the cruise line as the responsible party. (Bring copies with you, and keep copies at home and with someone else at your home base.)
  • Consult your health care provider before your travel so they have it documented in your records that you will be travelling.

If you have been involved in a cruise ship-related accident, and are seeking the advice of a firm who specializes in cruise ship injuries, we would be happy to help you. The cruise industry is a billion dollar industry, and for good reason. They provide enjoyment on board and at ports. It is never too late to be aware of situations that could occur while you are on the boat in case of a disaster or emergency.