Cruise Ship Drownings

Cruise lines have shipboard accidents unique to the high seas but also experience some of the same problems as hotels and parks on land. Cruise ships, like hotels, did not assign lifeguards to shipboard swimming pools and instead emphasized parental supervision. Some tragedies have occurred. If simple safety measures were in place, then more likely than not many of these tragedies could have been avoided.

Multiple Ship Drowning Incidents: What is the Cruise Line Industry Doing About it?

An 8-year-old boy drowned in a pool on Royal Caribbean’s International Anthem of the Seas last summer. In 2015, a family filed a lawsuit against that line and demanded lifeguards after a 4-year-old almost drowned in a wave pool on its Oasis of the Sea. Two years ago, a 6-year-old almost drowned on Independence of the Seas and suffered a brain injury.

  • A 10-year-old girl drowned in a pool on Norwegian Cruise’s Gem liner in May 2015. Fourteen months earlier, a 4-year-old died and his 6-year-old brother was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition after being found in a pool on that liner’s Breakaway.
  • A 6-year-old boy died from drowning in the Carnival Cruise’s Victory in 2013. A 41-year-old man also drowned in a hot tub on the liner’s Dream that year.
  • Disney Cruise Line was the only line staffed with lifeguards until recently. Guards were assigned after a multi-million-dollar settlement for the near-death of a 4-year old who almost drowned in a pool on its Fantasy cruise ship in 2013 and suffered a brain injury.

Death On High Seas Act

The 1920’s Death on the High Seas Act generally protects the industry from most financial responsibility for fatalities involving a non-wage earner such as a child or retired passenger.  There is no claim for pain and suffering in the event of a death that is subject to DOSHA. Nevertheless, large lawsuit settlements and public attention ultimately forced some changes regarding lifeguards on ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that it would station life guards at their family pools. This summer, it will post life guards on four of the line’s vessels and other ships will have lifeguards by early 2018.

That cruise line has used life guards on four of its largest vessels since 2015. This summer, complimentary swim vests will become available. Royal Caribbean announced earlier this year that it was assigning lifeguards at every pool and adult-only Solariums. This began with the Oasis of the Seas in February and will continue through June. It will also hire licensed lifeguards who, unlike other crewmembers, cannot perform other duties. Since 2015, the line offered life jackets for children.

Carnival Cruise Line now remains as the only major line without lifeguards but claims that it takes safety very seriously and will continue to train employees on water safety and first aid. It offers free life vests, uses safety nets around pools and has two managers auditing water safety.

Sometimes cruise line negligence is the culprit of drownings and other cruise ship accidents. Experienced cruise ship lawyers in Miami may help assure that cruise ship accident victims and their families can pursue their right to fair and just compensation. If you were injured by cruise line negligence, contact a cruise ship lawyer at the Miami Florida personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, PA who specializes in these cases. For a free case consultation, call 877-475-2905 today.

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