Common Sources of Cruise Ship Disasters

Most accidents on a cruise ship could take place anywhere. Whether it is a slip and fall or any other premises liability mishap, cruise ship passengers usually face the same risks they would on land. There are some unique dangers present due to the unpredictability of the high seas that can leave you injured and needing an experienced cruise ship lawyer.

Rough waters and oncoming storms are some of the risks for which the cruise ship crew should be prepared. Through tight communication with the coast guard, most of these sea-born dangers can be avoided and mitigated. But sometimes, due to negligence, apathy or conceit, the cruise ship could be set on a course that is unsafe for both the ship’s employees and its passengers.

We have all heard of the Costa Concordia disaster, where a cocky captain maneuvered the ship too close to shore to enjoy a nice view, hit an underwater rock, and caused the ship to capsize. Most cruise ship disasters occur in different, more common scenarios.


Most cruise lines are hyper vigilant about avoiding oncoming storms at all costs. In some cases, however, poor judgement prevails and cruise ships hit these storms head on.

In 1998 Windjammer Cruises’ ship, the Fantome, disembarked from Belize and continued to sail right into the path of Hurricane Mitch. The hurricane was on an erratic course and the captain misjudged the path of the storm and put the entire crew in danger. Thankfully all the passengers had left the ship in Belize City, but 31 crew members remained onboard to face 50-foot waves and 100-mph winds. The ship capsized and all the crew members lost their lives.

This disaster could have been avoided if the captain simply played it safe, kept better contact with the coast guard, and stayed up-to-date with the satellite projections of the path of the hurricane.


There are various hazards, both on the sea and below, that can collide with a cruise ship, causing it to sink. Cruise ships have been known to collide with coral reefs, rocks, and even other ships, leading to disastrous consequences.

In 1992 the MS Royal Pacific collided with a fishing trawler off the Straits of Malacca in the dead of night. It only took two hours for the cruise ship to sink, leaving a limited window for the 530 passengers to evacuate. Sadly, 31 people died from the accident.


In 1991 the MTS Oceanos sailed into rough waters and heavy waves. After a small explosion near the generator room the ship began to fill with water. When the ship began to sink, the crew, including the captain, panicked and abandoned the ship without even alerting the passengers that there was an emergency. Thankfully, all the passengers were saved, but no thanks to the people primarily responsible with their safety.

These incidents recall some of the worst possible scenarios of a cruise ship voyage. In all these types of incidents, the captain or other cruise line officials can be blamed for loss of life and other disastrous consequences. In almost all the situations, best practices and a strict adherence to safety protocol could have change the outcomes dramatically.

Contact a Maritime Law Lawyer Today

If you or someone you love has been adversely affected by a cruise ship accident, contact the experienced Maritime Law Attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz P.A. Law Firm today. Our team has a proven track record of fighting on behalf of the victims of  all types of cruise ship accidents.

Contact Information