3 Popular Cruise Ship Activities that Require Passengers to Sign Waivers

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Rock-climbing-wall-on-Royal-Caribbeans-Adventurer-of-the-Seas-cruise-shipThinking about cruising anytime soon? If so, you’re not alone. Summer is quickly approaching, which means that kids are out of school and it’s the perfect time to take a family vacation. Naturally, a cruise is one of the top types of vacations families consider. Cruises offer dozens of fun activities for the young, and the young at heart. But while some prospective passengers are aware that some cruise activities may pose some degree of risk, many may wonder which activities are most dangerous, especially if they plan on traveling with children.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers here at LMAW have often talked about the passenger ticket contracts and how they generally protect cruise lines from liability for injuries sustained on board. Yet, there are some activities considered so dangerous by the cruise lines, that they have devised special “Onboard Activities Waivers” to protect themselves above and beyond the passenger ticket contract.

So what are some of these activities? Let’s take a look:

  1. FlowRider – An onboard activity made popular by Royal Caribbean, the FlowRider is a surf simulator, and as such, is best left for experienced surfers to enjoy. Yet, even experienced surfers may find themselves at risk of injury due to the shallow water and high water speeds involved. In the ocean, when a surfer falls, there is often a cushion of water that at least offers some protection for the fall. This is not the case with the FlowRider. Combining no margin for error with new surfers receiving little to no instruction and the FlowRider can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, our cruise ship accident attorneys discussed a FlowRider accident aboard Royal’s Independence of the Seasvessel earlier this month where a passenger reported sustained serious injuries.
  2. Rock climbing – Rock climbing on cruise ships also poses unique hazards. If cruise lines don’t hire trained lifeguards to protect their passengers from drowning accidents, you can bet they aren’t going to hire instructors who are trained by the American Mountain Guides Association, the organization that oversees the training of rock climbing instructors. Furthermore, it is not clear what kind of safety protocol cruise ships use when it comes to retiring equipment such as harnesses and ropes. Ropes and harnesses have a shelf life of five years, and shorter, in cases where this equipment is used frequently. Passengers should always ask instructors how often equipment is replaced, and elect not to climb if ropes look frayed or if any of the interior core of a rope is visible through the sheath. This kind of wear and tear on ropes and gear is common, especially with ropes that are used regularly. Additionally, climbing wall holds become loose with time and use. Passengers should always test holds before committing to them in order to avoid unnecessary injury.
  3. Ice skating – While ice skating may seem like a relatively tame activity compared to some of the more adrenaline-packed offerings, it’s important to remember that there may be newbies on the rink and even with experienced skaters, accidents can happen. Even a small slip can result in serious injury requiring weeks to months of rehabilitation. Given the speeds involved and the unpredictability of other skaters, passengers should use prudence and caution before deciding to take to the ice.

While many of these activities—with proper instruction and guidance—can be fun to indulge in on land, sadly, the same cannot be said for doing so on board ship. Therefore, before throwing caution to the wind and signing that “Onboard Activities Waiver”, take the time to carefully evaluate your own skill level before doing any activity, ask questions about the equipment, the level of experience of instructors, and observe how the activity is run and ask those that have completed it what they thought of it before you participate yourself.