Most people probably don’t have to be told that cruises can be dangerous. Over the last few years, all kinds of unfortunate goings-on, including rampant illness outbreaks, countless cancelled trips, vessels that lost power and had to be towed back to port, and even people stranded in their luxury liner (no longer seeming so luxurious) for days have made the headlines.
For a while, news outlets were calling the most recent outbreak of sickness – one that claimed 630 passengers and 54 crew members – the biggest ever of its kind. Those statements have since been corrected, but it’s up to you to decide whether it makes it better or worse that a 2006 norovirus almost made nearly 700 people sick on a different cruise. Is it just indicative of the strength of the virus or an indication that cruise lines haven’t done enough to fix the problem?
Whether cruise ships are “petri dishes” for disease may not be clear, but two other stories remind us that taking a cruise can be not only dangerous, but deadly. A few weeks ago, Costa Concordia survivors commemorated the two-year anniversary of that cruise ship’s grounding and the subsequent deaths of 32 people by holding a candlelight march. In that case, operator error seems to be the likely cause of the disaster, and the captain of the ship is currently on trial for his actions. Another recent tragedy at sea involved a drowning incident involving a young boy in a cruise ship pool.
How Do These Deaths Happen?
As mentioned above, the Costa Concordia disaster is largely being blamed on actions taken by the ship’s captain. Though he maintains his innocence and has resorted to blaming his crew for not following his directions, the man is currently charged not only with manslaughter and causing the wreck itself, but also abandoning the ship before everyone had been evacuated.
The specifics of the tragedy are easy to find, but it’s harder to get any real answers about why they happened and why no one on the crew seemed to realize they were making a big mistake or put a stop to it.Not long after leaving port, the captain ordered the ship to steer close to the island of Giglio as a “salute.” But they got too close and hit a rock, which punctured the hull. Aswater poured in, the ship tilted from side to side and for some reason the captain didn’t give the order to evacuate until it was too late to lower many of the lifeboats. Ultimately, this inaction led to 32 deaths as the ship listed and sank and rescue crews had to be called in.
As for the recent drowning death of the 4-year-old boy, not much is known except that another boy (6) was also close to drowning, but crew members were able to resuscitate him and have him flown to a hospital. Many natural questions as to what happened so far remain unanswered.
Unfortunately, there is not just one way that cruises end up very badly for some passengers. They’re floating cities with all sorts of potential dangers present, and while you can take care and protect yourself and your loved ones from some of them, it’s hard to say how passengers could have saved themselves by being more careful in the Costa Concordia situation. Crew members and cruise lines have to find a way to be more responsible.
What Are Cruise Lines Doing to Fix These Problems?
It would be great to say that cruise ships are overhauling everything to make sure that cruise ships are less dangerous places, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. To be fair, the problems of the last few years have led to them engaging in more practices like offering refunds, guaranteeing medical care and sanitary conditions, providing passengers with a bill of rights, and publishing cruise crime statistics so that guests know what they’re getting into and can be more wary. Those aren’t small things.
But by and large, these seem to be changes made to shore up their image. In fact, the major push for cruise lines in 2014 is to release a bunch of new ships with never-before-seen attractions. Instead of real answers to real problems, we’re getting more glitz and glam to distract and entice people. Only time will tell if this strategy works for cruise lines, but if they really wanted to repair their image for the long haul, perhaps more of them should focus on making sure passengers return from their trips happy and healthy.
About the Author:
Attorney Jeffrey A. Luhrsen credits his military career with the work ethic, integrity, and tenacity that drives his career as a personal injury attorney. Having garnered numerous academic awards and scholarships during college and law school, Mr. Luhrsen has continued to earn accolades throughout his career, including a Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating, the highest rating an attorney can achieve in legal ability and ethical standards. He has been in private practice since 1998 with a focus on tort claims and insurance disputes. Luhrsen Law Group, based in Sarasota, Florida, is proud to be a family-owned firm that helps Florida families recover after serious injuries and from legal wrongs.