Money for Cruise Passengers for Dangerous Conditions Aboard the Ships

Information for Passengers

A cruise ship passenger has the right to sue the cruise liner and receive money compensation for accidents and injuries due to slip and falls aboard the ships.

If a cruise a cruise passenger is injured or suffers an accident during the cruise because of the negligence or the fault of the cruise line, he has the right to receive money compensation from the cruise line. The most common dangers that cruise passengers are exposed to are the following:

  1. Slip and falls aboard the ships. When a passenger is injured because the floor or the stairs he was walking on were slippery, defective, or dangerous, the cruise line is responsible for his injuries because it failed to keep the floor clean and safe. Therefore, if a passenger falls and injures himself because the floor or the stairs of the ship were dirty, slippery or defective, he is entitled to receive money compensation from the cruise line.
  2. Accidents and injuries during shore excursions in the ports.The cruise lines are responsible for accidents and injuries during port excursions.  If a cruise passenger is injured during a shore excursion, he can sue the cruise line for damages suffered. Frequently cruise passengers suffer accidents, injuries, or assaults during shore excursions in the different ports. The cruise lines are responsible for these accidents and injuries because the companies that run these excursions are often agents or partners of the cruise line. Therefore, if a cruise passenger is injured or assaulted during a shore excursion in a port, he is entitled to receive money compensation from the cruise line.
  3. Rape or sexual assaults during the cruise. Frequently, cruise passengers are the victims of rape or sexual assaults by the crew members or other passengers. The cruise line is responsible for these rapes and assaults for its failure to have a well trained crew or its failure to provide adequate security for its passengers. Therefore, if a passenger is raped or sexually assaulted, he is entitled to receive money compensation from the cruise line.
  4. The cruise lines are responsible for passenger safety.Drowning or near-drowning. When a cruise passenger drowns or almost drowns while participating in activities sponsored or supervised by the cruise line, the cruise line is responsible because of its failure to have adequate security or supervision such as a lifeguard on duty. Therefore, if a cruise passenger drowns or almost drowns, he or his family is entitled to receive money compensation from the cruise line.
  5. Disappearances. When a cruise passenger disappears during a cruise because he has been the victim of a crime on the ship, in a port, or because the cruise line employees sold him too much alcohol, the cruise line is responsible for his disappearance. Therefore, if a cruise passenger disappears because he has been the victim of a crime or because he has been maliciously drugged or intoxicated, he or his family is entitled to receive money compensation from the cruise line.

Our advice to any passenger that is injured aboard a cruise ship is to consult with a maritime lawyer immediately.

Cruise Passengers Have Fewer Consumer Rights than Airline Travelers

Information for Passengers

Cruise ship passengers have more limited compensation rights and consumer protections than air travelers – as the Carnival Triumph passengers found to their dismay.

Cruise ship regulations and cruise industry loopholes

Cruise ship passengers contemplates cruise lawsuitThe cruising industry is regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), which focuses on safety rather than consumer issues. The FMC is not as strict as the US Department of Transportation, which oversees the airline industry and enforces consumer-friendly regulations. In addition, many cruise lines sail under foreign flags such as the Bahamas, Panama, Liberia, or Honduras, which enables major cruise operators like Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean to avoid paying US federal taxes and exempts them from following regulations and standards established by the US government.

These loopholes mean that cruise ships passengers can experience on-board fires, power outages, and other maritime hazards, yet they have limited legal recourse for their pain and suffering.

“Each of these issues requires urgent attention from both the industry and regulators,” said Ross Klein, a researcher at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. “Because most [cruise ship] accidents are avoidable – related either to human error or to allowing ships out of port with unresolved mechanical issues – there is a need for much greater oversight of the industry and stricter enforcement of safety standards.”

Significant cruise ship accidents

According to Klein’s research, there have been at least 100 recorded cruise ship incidents worldwide in which cruise ships have gone adrift or sustained power outages since 2000. In addition, there have been 79 onboard fires and 73 collisions recorded for cruise ships since 1990.

In defense of the industry, The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) insists that its members “are subject to a very comprehensive body of laws, regulations and policies established at the national and international levels.”

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also oversees the cruise industry and establishes global standards that all vessels are required to adhere to. However, its regulations specify cruise safety standards rather than passenger rights and comfort.

Notable past cruise ship incidents include: a fire on the Azamara Quest near the coast of Malaysia; the Costa Concordia accident last year; and a power outage on the Allegra, which stranded 1,000 passengers without power or water for one week. In response, CLIA adopted 10 new regulations to ensure cruise ship passenger safety, such as the number of available life jackets and revamped emergency procedures.

CLIA released an official statement regarding the new policies, stating: “Cruising is one of the safest forms of leisure transportation, thanks to our industry-wide commitment to safety, strict regulations and vigorous enforcement mechanisms. Yet the rarity of cruise ship accidents does not mitigate the pain and loss we feel if they do occur.”

Cruise passengers may have limited consumer rights and protections

However, the new regulations have done nothing to spell out and formalize consumer rights and protections for cruise passengers. Critics also charge that the new policies do nothing to mitigate lax global oversight, even when the ships dock at US ports and submit to US Coast Guard inspections.

“There is not one universal overlord” that oversees the vessels, explained Robert Jarvis, professor of maritime law at Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “So there is a race to the bottom for cruise lines looking for which country is the most lax and the most inexpensive. And there are countries that say to ship owners, ‘If you come here and pay an annual fee, we will leave you alone.’ “

Would-be cruise passengers need to carefully read the contract on their ticket, so they can understand what they are entitled to if anything were to happen. Standard practice usually involves full or partial refunds, or credits toward a future cruise. In response to what the 3,143 Carnival Triumph passengers endured, Carnival Cruise Lines offered $500 on top of a full refund for their ticket.

According to Carnival Cruise Lines, an engine room fire causes the power outage. The US National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the cruise ship incident, though any impact on cruise regulations remains to be seen.

Cruise lawsuit immunity

Cruise ships are largely immune to lawsuits, since the standard of proof required of the plaintiffs are very difficult to fulfill. For a cruise ship lawsuit to have any traction, it must be proven that the cruise company knew that the vessel was not seaworthy, which is very hard to establish.

Though cruise vacations are often one of the safest travel options around, travelers need to be aware of what their rights are in case the unthinkable happens. Unfortunately, the cruise industry continues to operate in a type of legal purgatory, which means that passengers won’t be able to expect substantial changes in consumer protection anytime soon.

If you have suffered from a cruise ship accident, please contact our law office for a free evaluation. Attorney Elias Rudnikas is a maritime lawyer that provides law services free of charge until he wins each case.