Most people book a cruise expecting a relaxing vacation. Modern cruise ships are like floating cities, packed with onboard activities. But a dream vacation can quickly become a nightmare if you are injured while on the ocean. Unfortunately, cruise ship injuries are far more common than many people realize.
Cruise vacations are hugely popular, but these giant ships are filled with potential hazards. Passengers can suffer from incidents, from slip-and-fall accidents and assaults to viral outbreaks. If you are the victim of an onboard incident, you may be able to take legal action with a California cruise ship injury lawyer.
What should you do if you have been hurt on a cruise? The experienced personal injury attorneys of Bisnar Chase can help. Use this page to learn more about the potential dangers, what laws apply to cruise accidents, and how the cruise ship injury lawyers of Bisnar Chase can help you battle for compensation and justice.
Cruise Ships – The Background
The earliest form of modern cruises can be traced back to the 1800s. An English firm named Peninsular & Oriental Navigation Company (now called P&O) started to offer passenger journeys in 1844, which inspired the new transport trend.
As more shipping liner companies added large-scale passenger voyages, they fitted ships with increasingly luxurious interiors and extra amenities to improve the onboard experience. One of the first great examples of this was the ill-fated RMS Titanic, which featured fine dining and facilities including a swimming pool, library and gym.
To start with, these ocean liners would just travel from point A to point B. It was a means of transport, and nothing more. However, even the increasingly-luxurious onboard amenities could not stop the ships from from being rendered obsolete in the 1960s, as air travel became quicker, safer, and more accessible.
It was the shipping company Cunard Line that came up with a new plan to keep passengers traveling by boat. In the 1980s, Cunard was the first company to advertise the act of crossing the ocean as a vacation in itself. The firm brought entertainers and celebrities aboard to improve the experience for passengers, and the idea gained popularity.
As this trend took off, new mega-ships were created. These modern cruisers can carry thousands of passengers and offer a wide range of facilities, from movie theaters to basketball courts.
Unfortunately, with a greater range of amenities comes a bigger accident risk and increases the chances of a passenger requiring the services of a cruise ship injury attorney.
What is the Difference Between a Cruise Ship and an Ocean Liner?
There is a key difference between cruise ships and ocean liners, and it refers to the kind of journey they provide. An ocean liner will transport passengers from one location to another. This kind of transatlantic travel went into major decline in the 1960s as airplanes took over.
A cruise ship, on the other hand, is designed for round-trip voyages which start and end in the same location. Cruises are at an all-time popularity high, seen as an all-encompassing vacation, rather than a means of travel.
The Cruise Industry by Numbers
The cruise industry has become a huge money-maker, making billions of dollars every year. Here are the key figures:
- There are more than 300 cruise ships currently operating.
- More than 40 new ships are currently under construction.
- Of the current array of ships on the water, the largest can carry 6,680 passengers.
- Some of the new ships in development will set new passenger records. Two new ships commissioned by Dream Cruises (set to be completed in 2020 and 2021) will have passenger capacities of 9,500.
- In 2018 there were more than 27 million cruise passengers worldwide, with numbers rising year on year.
- Most cruises operate at 100% capacity.
- The global cruise industry generates annual revenue of about $38 billion.
- Nearly 450 major cruise ship accidents were reported from 2005-2011.
What are the Biggest Cruise Ships?
Cruise ships are getting bigger with each wave of new-builds. To accommodate the comfortable living quarters and incredible facilities, they are now colossal in size.
The largest current ship:
Name: Symphony of the Seas
Operator: Royal Caribbean International
Weight (in gross tonnage): 228,081 GT
Length: 1,184.42 ft
Max. Passengers: 6,680
Year Launched: 2018
Cost: $1.35 billion
The four biggest ships currently in operation belong to Royal Caribbean International. The next largest is used on European routes by operator AIDAnova.
Cruise Ship Facilities
Modern ships have a huge range of facilities, aimed at keeping people entertained while on the ocean. Cruise ships are created to be all-inclusive mobile resorts. Common amenities include:
- Swimming pools, water parks and surfing simulators
- Pubs, clubs and bars
- Sports facilities – basketball and tennis courts, pool tables, climbing walls etc.
- Spas and hot tubs
- Cinemas and theaters
- Bowling alleys and miniature golf courses
This wealth of activities aboard a cruise ship is enough to keep anyone entertained for weeks or even months on the ocean. However, some can also pose potential cruise ship dangers, which can lead to injuries and lawsuits.
Types of Cruise Ship Incidents and Injuries
Taking a cruise can be the perfect way to unwind and relax. But various types of boat accidents are common, and cruises present a wide range of potential dangers. The California cruise ship injury lawyers of Bisnar Chase know how often these risks can lead to cruise injuries.
These are some of the biggest dangers and causes of accident and injury:
Trip, slip, and fall accidents
Cruise ship slip-and-fall accidents provide one of the main causes of onboard injuries. Modern ships barely feel like they are moving, but passengers are still frequently hurt in fall incidents. It can be hard to keep your footing when faced with wet or slippery floors, while loose luggage and equipment can provide trip hazards.
It is more common than many people would think for passengers to fall overboard on a cruise ship. This can result in life-threatening or fatal injuries. Fall causes include intoxication, attempted suicide, and malicious attacks. A person may also lose their balance, or accidentally step over an edge.
It can be easy for a virus or infection to spread between cruise ship passengers. When you have a large number of people in relatively confined areas, the chances of infection greatly increase. Cruise ship norovirus outbreaks have become common in recent years. This severe virus causes vomiting and diarrhea and results in 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths every year.
Swimming pool incidents
Nearly every cruise ship has multiple swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, and swimming pool accidents are common. The deck floors around a pool are always likely to be wet and slippery, providing fall injury dangers. Any pool or water park featuring large slides, rapids, and flumes, will also naturally provide some element of danger. All pools also carry a drowning risk.
Assault or sexual assault
Cruise ship assaults and sexual assaults have become the most significant dangers at sea. Official reports show that there were 76 alleged assaults of a sexual nature on cruises in 2017 alone. This makes it the most common form of major crime on cruise ships. Staff medics now have to be equipped with rape kits by law as cruise operators attempt to combat the soaring assault figures.
Cruise ships are packed with fun activities, from rock climbing walls to surfing simulators. This can be great fun to try out but also comes with plenty of risks. Faulty equipment, poorly-maintained machinery, or negligent instructors can put people into dangerous situations.
Injuries relating to ship catastrophes
A catastrophic incident could include a major equipment malfunction, a lifeboat failure, or the cruise ship itself suffering a mechanical problem or capsizing. Any such incident will likely put passengers at risk and could lead to a serious cruise ship lawsuit.
All cruise ships will have trained medical staff on board, which is essential in a serious incident or injury. However, medical professionals can make mistakes just as with treatment on the mainland. On a cruise ship, passengers should expect competent care. If the quality of care falls short, there may be a case for legal action to be taken.
Fire will always threaten passenger safety in a confined or unfamiliar environment. If a fire starts on a cruise ship, it can be deadly. While it could put passengers at risk of serious injuries such as burns, scarring, and smoke inhalation, a fire can also damage the integrity of the cruise ship and put everyone aboard in danger.
With the addition of sports facilities such as basketball and tennis courts, the chances of passengers suffering injuries aboard their cruise increases. Sporting injury claims would depend on the circumstances of the incident and whether negligence was involved.
Modern cruise ships feature fantastic dining experiences, including buffet spreads and chain restaurants. Staff chefs are employed to prepare the food, but if it is not cooked or handled correctly, a passenger may suffer food poisoning. Anyone suffering from food poisoning on a cruise ship should contact a personal injury lawyer for help.
The huge mega-ships for cruises have multiple levels to accommodate the sprawling facilities onboard. If you want to make the most of the amenities, you better get used to taking the elevator, which can come with its dangers. There are more than 12,000 elevator injuries annually in the United States.
A person’s valuables can be easy targets in a cruise ship robbery or burglary. The difference between robbery and burglary is that a robbery will be carried out using force or the threat of force. As a result, a robbery could easily result in a cruise ship injury for the unfortunate victim and the loss of their possessions.
California Cruise Ship Injuries
Cruises have become premier vacation options for California residents, with the state boasting several major cruise departure points.
This is great news for seafaring adventurers. But it also increases the chances of a passenger from California sustaining an injury on a cruise ship and requiring legal representation.
The top California cruise ship ports are:
Long Beach Cruise Terminal
The Long Beach terminal is owned and run by Carnival – the largest cruise operator in the world. Cruises departing from Long Beach range from 3-24 days, with a wide variety running throughout the year.
Port of San Diego
San Diego’s cruise terminal hosts several operators, with cruises departing to various destinations. San Diego Port is home to: Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises.
Port of Los Angeles
The LA Port runs a terminal called World Cruise Center in San Pedro. Cruises running from this terminal include Cunard Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Costa Cruising, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Crystal Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Cruise ships also run from Northern California, most notably from the Port of San Francisco.
Cruise Ship Injury Statistics
A cruise ship vacation provides action-packed adventure or peaceful relaxation for most people. But some passengers may get more than they bargained for.
Beyond the spectacular ocean views, cocktails by the pool, and exotic excursions into new countries, there are plenty of potential dangers that could lead to a person being injured on a cruise ship.
These are not rare occurrences – cruise ship injuries are far more common than many people realize.
- From 2005-2018 there were 448 serious accidents on cruise ships worldwide. These numbers only include major reported incidents resulting in injury.
- During a six-year study period (from 2005-2011) there were 16 fatalities on cruise ships due to various accidents.
- A shocking number of people have fallen overboard on cruise ships. A total of 335 people plunged into the ocean between 2000 and 2018.
- Cruise ships are large, and powerful, and use routes featuring calm waters. But there have been plenty of capsized boat emergencies over the years. More than 23 passenger ships have capsized since 2008, including one major cruise ship.
- Sexual assault has become one of the most prominent cruise ship dangers. FBI figures show that more than 100 serious cruise ship crimes were reported between 2017 and the beginning of 2018. More than 70% of those were sexual assaults.
- Thirty-nine reported gastrointestinal virus outbreaks led to a serious illness on cruise ships from 2010-2013.
Cruise Ship Injury Case Studies
This is just a small sample of the headline-grabbing incidents which have led to injuries, deaths, and lawsuits on cruise ships in recent years:
- Balcony Fall Death on Carnival Cruise – 2018
A woman died on a cruise ship run by Carnival after falling from the balcony attached to her room. The ship was on a four-day cruise around the Bahamas when the incident happened. The victim tumbled from her 14th-floor balcony onto the 11th-floor deck and died from her injuries. It is not clear how or why the incident occurred.
- Cruise Ship Capsized After Rock Crash – 2012
Thousands of people had to be evacuated and 32 died after the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off the coast of Italy. The ship struck a large submerged rock, which tore a huge hole in its underside and flooded the engine room.
The ship (which cost $570 million to build) started to sink with more than 4,250 people aboard. Most passengers and crew were evacuated in a six-hour rescue mission, but 32 died.
- Nearly 700 People Hit by Massive Virus Outbreak on Cruise – 2014
A cruise was cut short after more than 20% of all passengers were struck by a serious gastrointestinal illness. Explorer of the Seas, a ship run by Royal Caribbean International, had more than 4,000 passengers and crew members aboard when the virus spread. The final count saw 689 people affected by the outbreak.
- Lawsuit Launched Over Cruise Ship Tilt Injuries – 2018
Passengers were injured after their ship tilted dramatically, just five minutes after leaving port on a Caribbean cruise. The ship – named Sunshine, run by Carnival – suffered a mechanical malfunction when its fin stabilizers failed. It caused the ship to lean heavily for about 60 seconds, sending furniture, passengers, and other items flying. Several passengers took legal action with an accident lawyer after suffering spine, wrist and knee injuries.
- Passengers Stranded After Engine Room Blaze on Cruise Ship – 2013
The Carnival Triumph cruise ship lost power after a major fire broke out in its engine room. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished, but the ship was stranded for several days, unable to move, with nearly 4,000 people aboard. The fire also caused an equipment malfunction, with sewage backing up onto passenger decks.
Passengers can face all kinds of dangers while on an ocean voyage, with injuries ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to catastrophic and life-altering damage – and even fatalities.
Cruise accidents can be caused by a wide range of factors, including inadequate security, sub-par safety measures, or serious negligence by the ship’s operators.
When the worst happens at sea, it is important to hold the cruise line company accountable. A California cruise ship injury attorney can help clients fight for the compensation and justice they deserve.
It can be notoriously difficult to win legal battles against cruise operators. Passengers and employees must sign a contract with the operator before stepping on a cruise ship. But many people do not realize that this paperwork will often put strict contractual limitations on any lawsuits filed.
In some cases, people looking to sue a cruise liner may be required to file their lawsuit within six months or a year of the incident – much quicker than the normal statute of limitations.
Restrictions may also be placed where a cruise ship injury claim can be filed.
Do not be put off by this – the experienced cruise ship injury lawyers of Bisnar Chase can help.
What is Maritime Law?
Maritime law refers to the rules that govern behavior on the seas. The laws of the land do not extend to the oceans, and once a cruise ship reaches a certain distance from shore (about 12 miles), maritime law comes into effect.
Maritime law can create question marks over jurisdiction, complicating legal action in some cases. It is important for cruise ship crime or injury victims to consult with an experienced California cruise ship attorney who understands maritime law.
Contact a California Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer
Bisnar Chase is a premier California law firm with an outstanding 99% success rate. Our law firm has been winning cases for 45 years and has collected more than $800 million for our clients. Just as importantly, we pride ourselves on providing superior client representation with a personal touch.
We specialize in handling personal injury cases. If a client has suffered an injury on a California cruise ship through the negligence of its operator, we believe in holding the cruise line accountable.
Bisnar Chase believes in ensuring all victims get the justice and compensation they deserve. Our firm offers a ‘No Win, No Fee’ guarantee, making top-quality representation available for everyone.
For a free consultation and expert help, contact the boat accident attorneys of Bisnar Chase now by calling (800) 561-4887.