The first few weeks of the year weren’t off to the best of starts for the cruise industry. Six man overboard deaths were reported nearly back to back, with both cruise passenger and crew members falling overboard or disappearing from their vessels. But as tragic as these losses have been, it is with a heavy heart that our firm must report another death following a cruise ship accident.
It has been reported that two children were involved in drowning and near-drowning accident on Monday while onboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the North Carolina coast. The youngest, a 4-year-old boy, died after being pulled from one of the ship’s pools. The second, a 6-year-old boy, was also pulled from the pool but was revived and flown to Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern with his grandmother and a nurse from the ship, then transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
It was also reported that the drowning and near-drowning accidents occurred on one of Norwegian’s newest ships, the Breakaway. It is unclear whether the two boys were related.
It was reported that a medical team onboard the Breakaway performed CPR on the victims. The Breakaway, an 18-deck ship featuring restaurants by Food Network chef Geoffrey Zakarian, ropes course, blues club, several pools, including an aqua park with a play area for young children, and with a capacity to hold 4,000 passengers. It has been reported that there were NO LIFEGUARDS ON DUTY.
When it came out last spring, industry experts praised the Breakaway, with Cruise Week editor Mike Driscoll even calling the vessel “the best ship in the company’s 47-year history.”
In just the last 9 months, 3 children have been involved in drowning accidents in cruise ship pools. Last October, a 6-year-old boy drowned onboard a Carnival Cruise Lines ship. The child was playing in the mid-ship pool area of the Carnival Victory with his older brother when he suddenly went underwater and became unresponsive.
A few months before that, a 4-year-old boy nearly drowned while onboard another cruise line. The boy survived, but has been struggling with severe complications ever since. Our last update on the boy’s condition was last June, when we were informed that his condition was improving, but he may have suffered permanent brain damage.
Our cruise ship accident lawyers have long been explaining the critical need for lifeguard employment on cruise ships, but it wasn’t until last September that the very first major cruise line, Disney, actually hired trained lifeguards. At least we can breathe just a little bit easier knowing that one cruise line out there has taken the necessary steps to protect its passengers from harm.
In the face of these tragic accidents and several others that have befallen the cruise industry for over 100 years, it’s still hard to believe that it has taken decades for the industry to hire lifeguards. Even then, the cruise industry as a whole has yet to fully employ all the safety resources that are available to help protect passengers from serious accidents.
We’ll take a look at this issue in further detail in Part 2 of this blog.