Cruise Lines and Terror Attacks: Can Cruise Ships Be Liable?

Cruise Lines and Terror Attacks: Can Cruise Ships Be Liable?

In early October, the Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa was the first cruise ship to sail into Tunis, Tunisia since terror attacks ravaged the area in 2015. Last year, 59 tourists were brutally killed by terrorists as they visited the area. Twenty-one tourists who were traveling with MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises were attacked at the Bardos museum in March. After the passengers got off of the buses used by the excursion companies that were contracted by the cruise lines, terrorists opened fire. Many survivors and family members of those killed alleged that the cruise lines did not provide adequate security for their passengers and in fact offered no information about terrorist activity in the area. Florida cruise ship accident attorneys can hold cruise lines liable when their failure to provide reasonable security measures causes passengers harm.

How could a cruise line be responsible for terrorist activity? The answer goes back to a cruise line’s responsibility to act with reasonable care in order to keep passengers safe. After the attacks in Tunisia, government officials alleged that they were foreseeable. In fact, Tunisia fired its head security experts and several high-ranking police officers. If notice of a dangerous condition is imputed on the cruise line, then the cruise line has a legal duty to take reasonable action to avoid the harm. This can be in the form of warning passengers or possibly avoiding areas where the risk of harm to passengers is likely to ocurr.

Many Florida cruise ship wrongful death attorneys argued that the cruise lines had information readily available about the danger. For example, Tunisian soldiers were fighting the presence of Al Qaeda. In fact, there had been several incidents involving suicide bombers who were targeting hotels and museums—in other words, they were actively targeting tourists. Both the United Kingdom and the United States had released warnings about unrest in the area. The terrorist group ISIS was actively recruiting in Tunis. Therefore, many questioned why the cruise lines would sail into such an area and put its passengers at risk.

A cruise line may be held responsible for injuries or deaths if it was aware of a danger and did not take steps to avoid or remove that danger. This is no different than the cruise line that has a ship knowingly sail into the path of a hurricane—in both cases, passengers’ lives are needlessly put at risk. In terror attack claims, passengers may sue to recover for their medical bills, lost wages (if they were unable to return to work after the attack), pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages. Cruise lines have a duty to regularly survey the destinations it chooses for its passengers. If there is any risk that passengers will not be safe, the destination should be avoided. If MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises had heeded warnings about Tunisia in March of 2015, 21 individuals may still be alive today. Hopefully, cruise lines will avoid destinations experiencing dangerous activity in the future.

Contact our attorneys today to discuss your claim

If you or a loved one was injured in a dangerous area while on a cruise, contact the Miami cruise ship injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz today to discuss your claim. To schedule a free consultation, call 877-475-2905 or visit our website at

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