Common Cruise Ship Dangers

Booking a cruise and taking a vacation is supposed to be easy and relaxing. It is tempting to let the kids enjoy activities while relaxing on a chair by the pool. Unfortunately, although a cruise ship may seem like a getaway from daily life and its stressors, potential dangers lurk in every passageway and on every promenade. There are many reported injuries and accidents on cruise ships. How safe are passengers really?

Common Cruise Ship Dangers

It is all too common these days to read reports in the media of outbreaks of food poisoning, legionnaires disease, injuries, sexual assault, and even murder on board cruise ships. Here are some common cruise ship dangers.

Food Poisoning and Norovirus

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that food poisoning affects about one in six Americans each year. Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If travelers consume contaminated food or water or touch surfaces contaminated by fecal material or vomitus, they can get infections with salmonella, shigella or E. coli. Norovirus needs special mention since these strains cause severe outbreaks that can send travelers to the hospital.

According to the CDC, norovirus cause more than 90% of outbreaks of diarrhea on cruise ships. Last year, the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program received 310 reports on Royal Caribbean ships.

Mechanical Difficulties

Mechanical difficulties and fires on cruise ships are making headlines. Thousands of passengers have been stranded for hours or even days at sea. When this happens, passengers are left without power to support effective refrigeration, food preparation or sewage disposal. Many times cruise lines won’t compensate passengers effectively for a ruined vacation.

In December, the Norwegian Sun lost power in one engine and skipped scheduled port calls in St. Thomas and St. Martin.  As compensation, Norwegian Cruise Line gave every stateroom $100 onboard credit and passengers also got credit toward a future cruise of 30 percent of the price of the original cruise. The cruise line sent a letter stating that they felt they went above and beyond yet passengers disagree. Unfortunately, this happens all to often on a cruise.

Unqualified Doctors

Modern mega cruise ships now have urgent care centers on board that are staffed with doctors and nurses who can treat passengers suffering from a wide range of illnesses and injuries. These range from sea sickness, broken bones, and in some instances, even life-threatening medical conditions. However, a previous law made passengers unable to hold these medical professionals accountable when they injured patients. The cruise industry has been fighting to keep their immunity for decades, but a few years ago the court reversed it. When injured on a cruise, you don’t have a choice in medical care. You rely on the medical staff on the ship. When they are incompetent, passengers suffer. When the onboard medical staff fails to adequately and competently treat an individual who is sick or injured, there may be medical negligence

Slipping & Tripping Hazards

Cruise ships bring a number of potential safety hazards inherent to a marine environment. This includes corrosion from salt water, sea spray, and water tracked into high traffic areas from pool areas. Spilled drinks, wet or foreign substances, food in restaurants, loose flooring to water tracked in by guests using the swimming pools, even dim lighting in stairwells and hallways are all common causes of slip and falls.

Some accidents are just that, accidental, and no one is to blame. However, there are some accidents that happen due to the negligence of the cruise line or its agents, employees and/or crew. When a passenger has suffered an injury due to the negligence of the cruise line, the cruise line becomes liable for the passenger’s injury and can be held accountable for the passenger’s medical bills, pain, and suffering, lost wages from missed work, future earning capacity and even future medical treatment.


People often assume that violent crimes, including sexual assault and rape, are not a problem aboard cruise ships, yet statistics disagree. In fact, it is scarily more common than many know. So common, in fact, that rape and sexual assault are the two most common kinds of crimes that take place at sea.  Unfortunately, cruise ships often keep these traumatic and life-changing events in the dark from the general public.

Although cruise ships do have some employees trained in security measures, there are no police officers on board. Also, there aren’t enough security personnel on the ship to handle the thousands of passengers. This coupled with an ability to access unlimited alcoholic beverages, lowers passenger inhibitions to protect themselves against criminal activities.

Don’t Wait to Get Help After an Injury

If you, your child, or your relative suffered a cruise ship related injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you disembark, your next step should be to get experienced legal help from a knowledgeable attorney.

At Michael Brady Lynch, our lawyers have decades of experience helping injured people get justice and full compensation for injuries caused negligence. Many cruise lines require passengers to file civil lawsuits within a short time after suffering an injury. There are important legal deadlines that injured people cannot miss. Contact The Michael Brady Lynch today, and our attorneys will review your case for free and help you protect your rights. For your complimentary consultation, call our office now.

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