Unfortunately, accidents that cause injuries and even fatalities happen all too often aboard cruise ships. Negligence causes most of these accidents, which could have been avoided if proper precautions had been taken. If you have been injured while trying to enjoy your vacation, a lawyer experienced in maritime law can help you get compensation for your medical expenses and other costs.
The Joys and Dangers of Cruising
Cruises are so popular with vacationers for many reasons. They weren’t always accessible to most people and held an exotic allure. These kinds of trips were expensive, and cruising on big ships and yachts used to be reserved for the wealthy. The appeal of luxury is one of the reasons people love to take these kinds of vacations.
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In the last few decades, the price of a typical cruise has dropped as cruise lines built bigger ships and crammed more passengers into them. Now most people can afford to cruise to the Caribbean or anywhere else in the world.
A cruise ship today is like a moving island with all the amenities and just about every kind of activity you can imagine. Ships have multiple restaurants with different foods, dance clubs, entertainment for kids and adults, swimming pools, movie theaters, ballrooms, spas, gyms, and even climbing walls and wave pools. Cruises can be themed too. There are singles, seniors, Disney cruises, and everything in between.
Cruise ships also stop at multiple destinations so passengers can disembark and see more places than they otherwise would be able to on a more conventional vacation. Cruises appeal to everyone, and this is one thing that has helped to make them so popular as vacation destinations.
Cruises can be great fun, but on the other hand, they can also be risky. Cruise ship passengers and workers have suffered injuries, illnesses, assaults by other passengers or crew members, and even deaths. Accidents include:
- Falling overboard
- Food poisoning
- Slips and falls
- Assaults and other crimes
- Recreational accidents
- Bed bug infestations
- Falling objects from unsecured cargo
- Shore-based accidents
Examples of Cruise Ship Accidents
Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of accidents on cruises that have caused injuries and fatalities.
Cruise Ship Fires
It may seem unlikely, but ship fires are common on cruises. A cruise ship fire can be more dangerous and disastrous than fires on land in a building.
If a ship fire is big enough, it can force passengers to take to lifeboats for escape, which can be dangerous and cause drownings and accidents. There are many examples of cruise ship workers being injured and even killed just by practicing using lifeboats. Although they may be vital, they are hazardous.
In 2013 a Royal Caribbean ship caught fire, forcing the evacuation of over 2,000 passengers and crew members. Luckily the fire was extinguished, and only minor injuries were sustained.
Illness on Cruise Ships
Illnesses are also a serious problem aboard cruise ships. Contaminated food can cause food poisoning on a massive scale.
Contagious sicknesses are also a significant issue because so many people are trapped in one place. One sick person can contaminate hundreds or thousands of others.
A Royal Caribbean ship faced this problem in 2014 when hundreds of passengers and crew members came down with a mysterious gastrointestinal virus that caused diarrhea and vomiting.
Norovirus is common on cruise ships, where contamination in the kitchen can ruin an entire buffet at which thousands of people eat.
Crew members are as susceptible to accidents aboard cruises as passengers are. Lifeboat injuries are not uncommon, especially while crew members are being lowered into the water in lifeboats for maintenance or safety training.
A Princess Cruise ship experienced such a disaster in 2014 when workers on a lifeboat were dropped into the ocean after a cable broke. One crew member died. Another similar incident occurred near the Canary Islands in Spain in 2013. A lifeboat fell, and five crew members were killed.
Crimes on Cruise Ships
Crimes can also lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities aboard cruise ships and may be more common than many realize. A study found that overboard accidents and crimes on ships are vastly underreported.
These criminal incidents include physical assaults, sexual assaults, and situations in which someone gets pushed overboard, intentionally or accidentally.
Fights break out on cruise ships often, sometimes between passengers, other times between crew members. Alcohol often plays a role in these incidents, and people almost always get hurt.
The Role of Negligence in Cruise Injuries
The vast majority of accidents, illnesses, and injuries aboard cruise ships are preventable. The negligence can be attributed to negligence by the cruise ship company, the captain, or the crew members working on the ship who represent the company.
These people have a responsibility to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of passengers. Laziness or carelessness can cause injuries and even deaths.
Crew members aboard a cruise ship should be trained to use equipment, operate the ship, and respond to emergencies like fires, collisions, and man-overboard situations.
The ship is also supposed to be adequately stocked with safety gear. If training is insufficient or equipment is missing or not well-maintained, passengers and crew may suffer accidents and injuries.
Another area in which negligence may occur is in the handling and preparation of food. When feeding so many people in a contained environment, contamination can and does cause significant illness outbreaks.
One person in the kitchen who has not washed their hands and then handles food may cause hundreds of other people to get sick. Unsafe practices with food in the kitchen, such as storing meat at the wrong temperature, can also spread sickness.
Crime should also be prevented by providing adequate security aboard cruise ships. Crimes happen just about everywhere, and with thousands of people on one ship, it is almost inevitable to happen sometimes.
However, cruise ships are responsible for providing security and having workers trained to deal with potentially dangerous situations.
Getting Legal Help for Your Cruise Ship Injury
If you have been injured or made sick aboard a cruise ship, you may be able to sue for damages. Injuries and illnesses on a ship can lead to expensive medical bills, lost wages if you can’t return to work immediately, mental anguish, and possibly even permanent disability.
You may be entitled to compensation to cover these costs, especially if negligence on the part of the cruise ship staff can be proven. Contact a lawyer experienced in maritime law, personal injury, and cruise ships to find out your options and how best to pursue legal action.