For many families with young children, taking a cruise seems like an attractive option for their next vacation. And cruise ship vacations do indeed offer many youngster-friendly perks, often featuring both onshore and onboard child care excursions, kids clubs, and sweeping buffets that can satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Yes, cruise ships can be a treasure trove of fun activities for young passengers, with pools, water slides, game rooms, and more.
However, before deciding to take your young children on a cruise, it’s important to understand the risks. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common cruise ship risks for young passengers.
Health concerns. In a heavily populated confined space like a cruise ship, disease and illnesses such as the flu and norovirus can spread very quickly. Young children are at a particularly high risk, since immune systems are more vulnerable at this age.
Drownings. Even after numerous tragedies and much public outcry, many cruise ships continue to not staff their pool with lifeguards. Cruise ship pools can become very crowded, and all it takes is one moment for a child to slip underwater and out of sight while their guardian is looking away.
Dangerous surroundings. Unfortunately for parents of very small children, cruise ships are not baby-proofed. You cannot let young children play without close supervision, since there are plenty of unguarded pools to fall into, high-traffic stairways, and older children running around play areas unsupervised. And while going overboard on cruise ships is a rare incidence, it does happen occasionally – young children that climb on the railings are particularly at risk.
Kids roam free. While cruise ships are confined areas, they are large and full of safety hazards. Despite this, kids are generally allowed to roam freely, and can check themselves in and out of organized programs. It’s fairly easy for parents to lose track of their kids, which can be a frightening experience in the event of an emergency.
Sexual abuse. Many people are surprised to learn about the prevalence of sexual abuse and assault on cruises. There have been many cases over the past few years involving sexual assault, including the rape and sexual abuse of minors. Oftentimes, parents are lured into a false sense of security, and leave their children unattended. In many instances, cruise ships have neglected to provide adequate background checks on their employees, only to discover criminal histories down the road – after something has already happened. In addition, many cruise ships fail to offer adequate security, employing only a handful of security guards to patrol the ship at night.
In general, cruising makes for a wonderful family vacation, and disastrous child accidents are mercifully few and far between. Even so, as a parent, it pays to be aware of the risks and hazards of cruising with children, and to prepare your kids by taking time to explain safety rules and guidelines before your voyage.
But even the most vigilant, caring parent can’t eliminate the threat of child accidents entirely. Cruise lines have a responsibility to protect passengers of all ages, and they should be held accountable if they fail to live up to this standard. If your child was injured due to negligence or dangerous conditions on a cruise ship, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills and overall pain and suffering. Contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer with experience handling cruise ship cases, and take the first step towards protecting your family’s rights.
About the Author:
Since 1995, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.