Over the weekend, the cruise ship industry suffered yet another blow when the Royal Caribbean ship, Grandeur of the Seas, was crippled by an onboard fire on May 27, 2013, forcing passengers to evacuate and be diverted to the nearby Bahamas.
This episode occurs in the wake of several other incidents that have plagued cruise liners this year, including the grounding of Carnival ship Costa Concordia last January, a fire at on Carnival’s Triumph ship in February of this year, and mechanical issues with the Carnival Dream in March.
According to a recent article by the SeattleTimes.com, incidents such as equipment failures and fires are more common than many might think. Further, because many of the ships are registered in other countries, and therefore not subject to U.S. reporting requirements, many of these occurrences go unreported.
The shocking extent of problems afflicting the cruise ship industry has brought the issue of passenger safety and comfort to the forefront, forcing the cruise industry to take steps to address these concerns. Accordingly, on May 22, the Cruise Lines International Association, representing 25 major cruise companies, announced the adoption of a passenger Bill of Rights guaranteeing the “safety, comfort and care” of their travelers.
Among other things, the Bill of Rights offers full refunds for canceled voyages, the right for passengers to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food and water cannot be provided, and guarantees that ships’ crews are properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
According to Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, “The Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights codifies many longstanding practices of CLIA members and goes beyond those to further inform cruise guests of the industry’s commitment to their comfort and care.”
Although the cruise lines efforts to increase safety and passenger comfort are laudable, they will likely do little to prevent personal injury aboard ships. As this blog has discussed before, cruise ship injuries can be serious and often result from:
*Slip and fall accidents resulting from wet or slippery surfaces, or poor ship maneuvering.
*Tainted food resulting in serious illness.
*Inadequate medical care by unqualified individuals or with improper equipment.
Cruise ship accidents must be handled differently than ordinary personal injury cases, because they often arise under a different type of law, such maritime, admiralty, or contract law, and are subject to much shorter statutes of limitations to pursue a claim, sometimes as short as one year. Further, cruise companies often utilize various tactics to delay litigation, resulting in the degradation of evidence and, in certain cases, loss of the right to compensation.
The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and has been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident, contact the attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.