>>> This Post Updated April 10, 2015: <<< please share if you find this information of value to you…
The reality of cruise travel is that the vast majority of people who cruise will do so happily, enjoying their vacation without incident. Over 20 million people cruise each year and the world’s cruise lines do a pretty remarkable job of providing safe passage.
However, over the last two years (since this post was first written) there have been a number of incidents that have grabbed their share of the media’s attention…and ours as well.
From the Costa Concordia wreck, to the infamous Carnival Poop Cruise to various drownings, injuries, physical assaults, crew member attacks, passenger’s overboard, accidental deaths and even murder, it can seem like cruise lines are exceedingly dangerous.
Are they really though?
Most of the 20 million passengers who sail will do so without any issues and will have a wonderful time. That is a credit to the cruise lines.
But with that many passengers (and millions of crew members too), bad things are bound to happen. Some of those incidents are preventable. Some are not.
It is a simple fact that accidents and injuries will occur on cruise ships. It’s why cruise ship injury law firms like our exist (as do many, many others). It’s also why the cruise line industry operates under relatively strict regulations (though this is often questionable).
As a cruise ship passenger, it’s important to know that ‘Safety First’ is not just an phrase, but a focus for the cruise lines. Providing safe passage is equal to providing a fun, enjoyable vacation.
It is also important to remember that your own personal safety is something that you can control. Things like being aware of your surroundings on board (or on excursions), being aware of your alcohol consumptions, keeping an eye on your children, abiding by the cruise line’s rules, etc.
But accidents do happen
However, we all know accidents do happen – here are two inquiries (actual inquiries taken from their emails to our law firm) we’ve received in 2015 from injured passengers.
Ship: Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas Date: Jan 26, 2015 (day 3 of 10 night cruise) Injury: Crushed fingers, Fracture distal left middle finger phalanx, hematoma nail (trephined) (X-rays, pictures, and certified ship medical report available) note;they did not charge me anything for the medical visits. Index finger also crushed, no fracture, but still numb. Cause: Stateroom door suddenly ‘sucked’ shut, pulling hand along with it.
Or this one….
Ship: Princess Cruises: One evening at sail i went to bed about 8pm. IN full sleep i was tossed from the lower bunk 4 feet and crashed into the bunk bottom next to me! All the bedding was tossed with me. A small cut inisde my lip sore neck sore shoulders, arm. I am nursing a painful Rotator cup cap tear that could not be operated on till we returned.I landed on this arm. I made a claim to the company. Noone from their medical team even called, but two foreign speaking ‘police’ came and looked at the room i coud not understand them and the company would not tell me what my comments were.
Where can I see accident reports?
Good question! No, great question!
The cruise lines themselves don’t make incidents and accidents public. Unless reported by a passenger or a news sources, most crimes, accidents, injuries, thefts, etc. go unnoticed (excepts by the victimized passengers themselves). As a potential traveler on a cruise ship, it’s ultimately up to you
A Google Search (example searching “Carnival Cruise + Accidents”) will give you a list of accidents that you’ll have to sort through. It’s also important to know that if you’re cruising on a specific vessel, you might want to do Google Searches on the name of the ship + accident (or + report, + reviews + complaints).
One site we found pretty reliable? Cruise Junkie
Another is the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) who publishes vessel sanitation reports. These are fascination reads! Click here to read more about cruise line inspection reports and grades. You do have to poke around a little but the information is worth researching for a few minutes.
A CNN article about Cruise Line Safety Issues
Carried in full here at the CruiseLawyers.com blog is a July 25th, 2013 article from CNN regarding the lack of crime reporting by the major cruise lines. The point of the article is to showcase that passengers don’t have a full understanding of the dangers that do exist on cruise vacations prior to booking their cruise and are unable to make accurate decisions about booking a cruise that may affect their safety. (THOUGH A 2013 ARTICLE, MANY OF THESE SAFETY CONCERNS STILL EXIST).
Here is the article in full (below) or you can read it online at CNN.com here.
Washington (CNN) — Vegas stole the slogan. But cruise ships can also lay claim: Whatever happens on cruise ships, stays on cruise ships.
Only a tiny portion of alleged crimes on cruise ships is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee.
Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
As a consequence, passengers have an incomplete picture of crime on board of ships.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, disclosed the statistics on Wednesday in advance of a hearing on safety and security on cruise ships.
“I’ve been told time and again that cruise lines will change, that things will get better for passengers,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “But according to our investigation, it doesn’t appear to me that passengers are substantially safer.”
In 2007, the FBI, Coast Guard and the cruise lines agreed that the industry would voluntarily report to the FBI incidents involving serious violations of U.S. law, including homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. nationals, kidnapping, assault with bodily injury, sexual assaults, firing or tampering with vessels, and theft greater than $10,000.
Three years later, Congress ordered the Coast Guard to maintain a web-based statistical record of alleged crimes.
But the site discloses only incidents no longer under investigation, giving the public an incomplete picture, Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller has introduced legislation that would require industry to disclose all crime alleged on cruise ships, and beef up video surveillance of public areas.
It also would give the Department of Transportation the lead agency for cruise ship consumer protection, akin to its role in aviation.
Crime on cruise ships, though infrequent, presents special problems, Rockefeller said.
“If someone steals your property or assaults you on a cruise ship, you cannot call 911 and have the police there in a few minutes. You can only call the ship’s security officers, who also happen to be employees of the cruise line,” he said in written remarks.
“Under current law, cruise ship crime report data is not available to the public. That means consumers have no way to find out what their real risks are before they book a cruise.”
The industry emphasizes that crimes are infrequent.
For instance, two big cruise companies, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, reported a combined seven incidents in the quarter ending June 30. All were either assaults involving serious bodily injury or sexual assaults.
“There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our guests,” Carnival says on its web site. “Public reporting requirements … are unique to the cruise industry and similar requirements do not exist for other travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels and theme parks.”
In a cruise ship crisis, what should happen?